Pictured: Clement Haynesworth, former Judge on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and RN’s first choice to fill the vacancy left by Associate Justice Abe Fortas. Though his nomination was eventually blocked, the 37th President refused to withdraw it after protest from members of the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate. “There was a basic constitutional principle involved,” RN maintained, “the right of a President to choose his nominees to the Supreme Court.”
Tom Korologos, former Nixon White House Deputy Assistant for Congressional Affairs and “101st Senator,” gives a timelined history of toughly contested presidential nominations in The Washington Post:
The founding fathers originally intended that Congress, not the president, make all nominations. The Constitution’s “advise and consent” provision was a compromise between those who wanted Congress to do all the appointing and those who thought it should be the president’s job. We ended up giving the Senate only the power to say “yea” or “nay.”
In our young nation’s history, there have been 141 Supreme Court nominees; 27 of them, or 19 percent, were rejected or withdrawn. There have been some 700 Cabinet officers nominated, of which 4 percent have been rejected or withdrawn. Here are a few memorable nominations, from our nation’s first to some of its most contentious.
Click here to read more.
Of course, Richard Nixon – the first President elected since Zachary Taylor elected while the opposition party controlled both Houses of Congress – had his share of tough confirmation battles.
In RN’s first year in office, the Senate rejected, consecutively, his first two choices (Clement Haynesworth and Harold Carswell) to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Associate Justice Abe Fortas.
And in 1971, though the Senate dragged its feet, RN and his Congressional liaison team very dexterously steered the nominations of Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist to overwhelming confirmations to the high court. He later said his Supreme Court appointments were the “most constructive and far-reaching actions” of his presidency.
These challenges with Congress were the subject of a recent Nixon Legacy Forum featuring Korologos, and fellow White House officials Wally Johnson and Fred Fiedling. Watch below: