Supreme Court and School Busing

Published: 1971
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
WAP99010704 - 7 JANUARY 1999 - WASHINGTON, D.C., USA: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist walks to the Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol, January 7, to be sworn in and then swear in Senators as jurors in the impeachment trial of President Clinton. iw/Ian Wagreich UPI

Two Supreme Court positions were filled in 1971. The posts became available with the retirement of Justice John Harlan and the retirement of Hugo Black, who died a week after he announced his leave. The two new Justices, Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist, were approved by the Senate with much less controversy than other Nixon candidates. The President has now appointed four of the nine Justices who sit on the Court.

One of the major decisions of the Supreme Court in 1971 was their unanimous upholding of the constitutionality of busing to end officially imposed school segregation and dual school systems. The issue of busing got confused when the President asserted he was opposed to busing as a means of achieving racial balance when it meant going beyond the minimum required by law. This brought a reply from Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Unknown Speaker: "Governor Wallace is working very closely with President Nixon in order to help him be able to carry his objective of no massive busing in Alabama, and I would hope that the Governors of the other states would oblige and help the President as much as I desire to help him carry out his desire not to have massive busing."

Announcer: While he did not officially announce his candidacy in 1971, George Wallace is considered a possible third-party candidate for 1972.

New York City Mayor John Lindsay didn't announce his candidacy, either, in 1971, but the man who seconded the Vice-Presidential Nomination of Spiro Agnew at the Republican National Convention in 1968 did make this announcement.

Mayor John Lindsay: "This morning at Gracie Mansion, Mrs. Lindsay and I enrolled in the Democratic Party. In a sense, this step recognizes the failure of 20 years in progressive Republican politics. In another sense, it represents the renewed decision to fight for new national leadership."

Announcer: Of course, reporters asked Lindsay the inevitable question.

Mayor John Lindsay: "I'm not a candidate, I'm not announcing a candidacy. I'm not a candidate for any office."

Announcer: Whoever does run, one thing is sure: he'll be trying hard for the vote of 25 million potential young voters who have never voted in a Presidential election. Of these, more than 11 million will be 18 to 20-year-old young citizens who were given the right to vote in all elections when the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1971.

If talk about future or potential Presidential candidates got to be a little too much for White House watchers in 1971, they have the opportunity to turn to less mundane matters. The President's eldest daughter, Tricia, married Edward Finch Cox in the White House Rose Garden. And despite the controversy surrounding the wedding cake, those who were there said it wasn't mushy on the outside or soupy on the inside; it was just fine.