The Watergate Scandal Unfolds
Understanding the role of the Supreme Court in American politics and life calls for an understanding of the factual and social environmental underpinnings of litigation that comes to the high court for review by the justices. Although the Watergate Tapes litigation came to the Court in late May 1974, the justices, like all Americans, were fascinated and saddened by the tenor of the events that shook society prior to the formal legal arguments before the Court. As one scholar observed at the time, there was "no real possibility that the Court was unaware of these [Watergate-related] realities." 1 They, too, watched with deep concern as the tragedy unfolded before the national and international communities, in the courtrooms, in the senate committee rooms, at press conferences, in their daily newspapers, and live on national television and radio.
Five persons broke into the Democratic party's national headquarters, located in the Watergate complex in Washing