Before there was Neil Gorsuch, or Merrick Garland, and before Harriet Myers and Clarence Thomas and even before Robert Bork, the war over the Supreme Court was raging, and Pat Buchanan was in the trenches.
The battle was between Nixon and LBJ over replacing Earl Warren as Chief Justice with his ally on the court Justice Abe Fortas. Nixon took a neutral stance on Fortas’ elevation to Chief Justice, but Buchanan and other Nixon administration officials fought it. Here’s the story from Pat at The American Conservative:
So, Warren and LBJ colluded in a plot. Warren announced his resignation from the court contingent on Senate confirmation of his successor. LBJ then named Warren’s ally and his own longtime crony, Fortas, to succeed Warren.
The fix was in. Nixon was boxed, and adopted a posture of benign neutrality on Fortas’s elevation, having been warned by future Secretary of State Bill Rogers that he would be accused of anti-Semitism if he blocked the first Jewish chief justice.
With Nixon’s knowledge, some of us on his staff ignored his neutrality posture and urged Senate conservatives to block Fortas.
Foremost among these was Strom Thurmond, who needed little prodding, and who was provided with Flaming Creatures, a graphic film of transvestite sex that Fortas, alone among the nine justices, had deemed acceptable for public viewing.
Senators were invited to a closed room for a screening. Some walked out wobbly. And as I told friend Sim Fentress of Time, the “Fortas Film Festival” was going to do in our new chief justice.
And so it did. Fortas was rejected in early October. In May 1969, President Nixon named Judge Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren.
Read more here.
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