History 4321/Children’s Studies 401

The Nixon Years

October 17, 2005


I. The Warren Court


            1. Loving (intellectualy buildup; redefining gender roles)


            2. In re Gault (civil liberties and logic of in re Gault; reaction in Court)


            3. The Path to Tinker (Warren Court and right to protest—civil rights cases; development of anti-war movement; role of students)


II. Changing Constitutional Norms


            1. 1968 (emergence of crime issue; Wallace candidacy; “Southern strategy” and “strict constructionists”; Warren retirement—Thornberry nomination, elevation of Fortas; conservatives and Fortas—Warren Court on trial, ethical allegations; filibuster and Burger appointment)


            2. Strict Constructionists (Fortas resignation; Haynsworth nomination; problems—conflict of interest allegations, segregationist past; role of Bayh, Cooper in defeat; Carswell nomination; perfunctory staffwork; segregationist past; Senate reluctance to challenge nomination; emergence of competence issue—Bayh attacks, reversal rate, Hruska response; Senate rejection; Blackmun nomination)


III. Nixon and Civil Rights


1. Politics and Civil Rights (Philadelphia Plan and Nixon attempt to split New Deal coalition; ERA; Nixon and women)


2. Busing (open housing and origins of Northern backlash; politics of school busing; from Swann to Milliken)


September 22, 1971: Nixon and White House aide (and future commentator and GOP presidential candidate) Pat Buchanan discuss how they can use the busing issue to create political difficulties for the probative frontrunner for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, Maine senator Edmund Muskie.


                President Nixon: Well, I’ve basically—we’ve got to say that it’s only the extent that it is required by law—

Pat Buchanan: Right.

President Nixon: By a court order, do I think busing should be used.

                Buchanan: Mm-hmm.

                President Nixon: Don’t you think that’s really what you get down to?

                Buchanan: Right. Right.

                President Nixon: Because the line, actually, between my line and Muskie’s, is not as clear as—I mean, it’s just the way he said it. He starts at the other end. He says, “Well, I think busing is a legitimate tool—

Buchanan: Yeah.

                President Nixon: And then, “but I’m against it.” I start at the other end. I say, “I’m against busing, but, if the law requires it, to the minimum extent necessary, I, of course, will not resist it.”

Buchanan: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Right?

                Buchanan: Right.

                President Nixon: It’s purely a question of tone.

Buchanan: Well, we’ve got to push Muskie’s emphasis up in the headlines; that’s the problem.

President Nixon: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. It’s got to be—well, I think it probably is going to get some play in the South now—

Buchanan: I think, well, that’s something you could really move by various statements exaggerating his position, and then Muskie would come back sort of drawing it back and it raises—identifies him with it.

President Nixon: Yeah, the thing to do really is to praise him—have some civil rights people praise him for his defense of busing.

Buchanan: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: That’s the way to really get that, you know. It’s much the better way than to have people attack him for it—

Buchanan: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: —is to praise him for his defense of busing, see?

Buchanan: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: And I don’t know if you’ve got any people that can do that or not. But I would think that would be very clever.

Buchanan: Mm-hmm. OK.


September 19, 1973, Disney World, Florida. The President publicly defends himself against the growing Watergate allegations.


President Nixon: Let me just say this: I made my mistakes. But in all of my years of public life, I have never profited—never profited—from public service. I earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination. Because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.