Announcer: The Supreme Court made its share of headlines in 1969, but their decisions didn’t account for as many of the headlines as the individual justices did.
First, Justice Abe Fortas resigned from the High Court after he was accused of unethical financial dealings with a foundation setup by financier Louis Wolfson.
Chief Justice Earl Warren retired in June and US Court of Appeals' Judge Warren Burger was Nixon’s nominee to take over the vacated post. His nomination was quickly accepted by the Senate. With one vacancy to fill, Nixon proposed the name of Federal District Judge Clement Haynesworth. This set off a debate in Congress. The opposition to Haynesworth was taken up by many Senate liberals; one who was concerned was Senator Philip Hart of Michigan.
Senator Philip Hart: “You bet I am concerned at the nomination of the Supreme Court of a man who has been reversed of, I guess it's fair to say, consistently on appeals from his civil rights and labor management decisions. We can misread items of impropriety and their appearances. You can't misread philosophy that would be in my book unacceptable. And if there is in fact a constant reversal of the nominee’s opinions, when if they got to the Supreme Court in labor management cases and civil rights cases and in my book the Court was right and he was wrong.”
Announcer: Speaking for the South Carolina Judge was Republican Senator Marlow Cook of Kentucky.
Senator Marlow Cook: “I feel that he is being subjected to a character assassination that is unjustified. I feel that he is a man of honesty and a man of integrity.”
Announcer: Finally after three months, the Senate vote was taken; the result, 45 said yes, 55 said no. For Nixon, his first taste of defeat as Chief Executive.