Safeguarding Judicial Integrity During the Trump Presidency: Richard Nixon's Attempt to Impeach Justice William O. Douglas and the Use of National Security as a Case Study
Campbell Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2018
60 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2018 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018
In April 1970, Congressman Gerald Ford called for the impeachment of Justice William O. Douglas. Although Douglas had been accused by anticivil rights Southern Democrats of unprofessional conduct in his association with a political foundation as well as his four marriages, Ford reasoned that, in addition to the past allegations, Justice Douglas had become a threat to national security. Within two weeks of Ford's allegations, United States military forces invaded Cambodia without the express consent of Congress. Nixon's involvement in Ford's attempts to have Justice Douglas impeached give rise to the possibility that, in addition to trying to reshape the judiciary and further architect the "Southern Strategy" by bringing conservative Southern Democrats into the Republican Party, the impeachment would serve as a means to divert attention away from the Cambodian invasion. Ford's irresponsible conduct in this matter (and Justice Douglas's overall conduct) have never been historically addressed and, as a result, did not leave to future political leaders and judges a means by which to gauge behavior that can undermine the independence of the judicial branch. This Article is intended to provide a historical model of accountability.
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