Dan Morain of The Sacramento Bee writes of the connection between RN and California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina:
President Richard M. Nixon took office pledging to remake the U.S. Supreme Court and appointed four justices during his first term. If Nixon had served an entire second term, Fiorina’s father, Joseph T. Sneed, might have become Nixon’s fifth appointee to the nine-member court.
The president spoke of Sneed during a November 1972 meeting with H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and John Ehrlichman as a potential high court appointee, according to a tape transcribed by the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. He mentioned the possibility several other times, too.
In the early 1970s, Sneed was dean of Duke Law School, Nixon’s alma mater. Nixon appointed him deputy attorney general in January 1973, and to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals six months later. Sneed often offered the conservative dissent on a court where liberals have been dominant for years. He gained notoriety in 1994, when then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist selected Sneed to sit on a three-judge panel that selected Kenneth Starr as special prosecutor to investigate President Bill Clinton.
Sneed was dean at Duke when Starr was a student there, and Fiorina has described Starr and his wife, Alice, as family friends. Alice Starr donated $1,000 to Fiorina’s primary campaign.
Another Bee item elaborates:
In this tape, dated Nov. 11, 1972, Nixon is meeting at Camp David with Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and Chief Domestic Policy Adviser John D. Ehrlichman, and asks whether Sneed might accept an appoinment as the head of the Internal Revenue Service:
“How about the Dean of the Duke [University] Law School? Would he take it? Having in mind the fact that he … having in mind the fact that he would go up to the Court maybe?”
Here is the Miller Center’s full transcript:
Ehrlichman: It’s the dean. He’s named Sneed. He’s a very classy Republican.
President Nixon: Says he’s that good.
Ehrlichman: Yeah. Well, I talked to him about busing and a lot of things, and he thinks straight.
President Nixon: Keep him in mind.
Ehrlichman: Yep. He’s―
President Nixon: How old is he?
Ehrlichman: I would guess about 52, something of that kind. … His wife was with him and she looks about that age.
President Nixon: What is his background, law school or whatever it is?
Ehrlichman: I’m not sure where he went to law school. He’s been teaching at Stanford for about eight or ten years. I don’t know where he was before that. I mean, that’s how I got an introduction to him. But he asked to come in.
President Nixon: He is a classy guy, huh?
Ehrlichman: I think he is.
President Nixon: Good.
Ehrlichman: He’s got a funny muscle spasm, his head over to one side, but very bright, very obviously quite conservative, a good Republican. He’s been active in Republican politics in California.
President Nixon: How the hell did he?
Ehrlichman: I don’t know how that happened, but―
President Nixon: God Almighty. You know, you have to wonder how any .
Ehrlichman: Apparently he’s been pretty busy in California state politics, because he knew all the players.
President Nixon: Let’s remember him, sort of keep him in mind, you know? You never know what―assistant attorney general, deputy attorney general. He’s that kind of fellow.
Ehrlichman: He says you’re most welcome at the law school any time you wanted to come down.
President Nixon: It’s about the only place they’ll let me on.