When Republicans Tried to Remove a Supreme Court Justice

On April 15, 1970 Ford took the floor in the House and began a speech making a public case against Douglas. The congressman seemed to be reading from an Obo research file, highlighting some of Douglas’ most provocative writings outside of court, such as his book, “rebellion points. “

“Recently on the stands appeared a little black book with William O. Douglas’ signature ‘written on the cover in red,’” Ford said. Its title is Points of Rebellion and its thesis is that violence may be justified and perhaps only the revolutionary overthrow of the Establishment can save the country.

“The nicest thing I can say about this 97-page book is that it’s a quick read. Had it been written by a sophomore of the gunmen, as easily as it can easily happen, he would of course not have found a publisher as reputable as Random House. It’s an ambiguous debate He clearly aims to historically legitimize the hard-line hippie movement and testify that the 71-year-old Supreme Court justice is one of them.”

In this book Douglas wrote: “We must realize that today’s institution is the new institution of George III, and whether it will continue to abide by his tactics, we do not know. If so, the remedy, so honored in tradition, is also a revolution.” (George III was King of England when the American colonies declared their independence.)

Ford also criticized Douglas for writing – while on the Supreme Court – in magazines such as forefrontwhose publisher, Ralph Ginsburg, was convicted in 1963 of violating federal obscenity laws.

“When I first came across the facts of Mr. Douglas’ involvement in porn and embracing the hippie style revolution, I was inclined to dismiss his fragmented behavior as the first sign of aging,” Ford said. “But I think I underestimated justice.”

“In the event that there were any ‘square’ Americans who were too stupid to get the message Mr. Douglas was trying to tell us, he has now removed every possible misunderstanding,” Ford added, citing Douglas’s writings for another publication. Evergreen review. While members of the House of Representatives were browsing through copies of the imperfect magazine, Ford said, “I am simply unable to describe the witty advertisements, perverted suggestions, sloppy, candid illustrations, and horrific and painful four-letter language.”

Ford argued that Douglas should have stepped down on Ginsburg’s appeal of a $75,000 libel ruling won by Senator Barry Goldwater, dating back to a 1964 article in another Ginsburg publication that likened the then Republican presidential candidate to Adolf Hitler. In January 1970, the Supreme Court denied Ginzburg’s request to review the ruling. Douglas was one of the two dissenting judges. Ford noted that Douglas received $350 for his article in forefront.

“Writing signed articles for disreputable publications for a convicted pornographer is bad enough. Taking money from them is worse. Ford accused that refusing to exclude oneself in this case is unforgivable.

Ford elliptically noted Douglas’s messy personal life, including his four marriages, the last of which were to women in their early twenties when Douglas was in his 60s: Court in Notoriety is his own business. One need not be an ardent fan of any judge or justice, or advocate for their way of life, to recognize their right to be promoted to or remain on the podium.”

In addition, Ford suggested that the judge, who was nominated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, may have links to mafia and gambling figures. He called for an investigation into Douglas’ behavior, adding: “I will vote to impeach him now.”

The next day, more than 100 members of the House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for the creation of a special commission to investigate whether Douglas would be impeached. Nearly half of the members who signed the agreement were Democrats, but they were mainly conservatives from the South.

Ford’s attack on justice, directed in particularly personal terms, was outside the character of a normally gentle Midwest lawmaker. And there was a reason for it: Ford was acting on the order of an even more daring politician – Nixon, who was still angry with Democrats for rejecting his first two Supreme Court candidates.

The White House denied any involvement in the anti-Douglas effort at the time. But William Saxby, the Republican senator from Ohio who became Nixon’s last attorney general, Wrote In his memoirs, Nixon “kidnapped” Ford on Douglas “in revenge and perhaps in a fit of rage” after losing those votes.