United States v. Nixon

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United States v. Nixon, Template:Ussc, was a United States Supreme Court decision that was integral to the resolution of the Watergate Scandal and had lasting implications for the power of the President of the United States.

Contents

The Bench

The makeup of the supreme court and their opinions were:

Opinion

The case

Following a subpoena of the Watergate tapes by special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, Richard Nixon sought to have them quashed on the ground of executive privilege. The Court ruled 8-0 that the tapes should be released.

The Court determined:

  1. that the courts have the final voice in determining constitutional questions and
  2. that no person, not even the President of the United States, is completely above law.

Most importantly the Court determined that a president cannot use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence that is 'demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial.'

Quotes

  • "The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment."James D. St. Clair, Richard Nixon's counsel, arguing before the Supreme Court
  • "Neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances. The President's need for complete candor and objectivity from advisors calls for great deference from the courts. However, when the privilege depends solely on the broad, undifferentiated claim of public interest in the confidentiality of such conversations, a confrontation with other values arises."—Chief Justice Warren Burger
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