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"We Have a Duty": The Supreme Court and the Watergate Tapes Litigation

Overview

In June of 1972, the Democratic National Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., was the site of one of the most famous burglaries in U.S. history. The abortive Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up is reexamined in this book from the unique perspective of the Supreme Court judges, who grappled with its political and legal ramifications. Howard Ball presents the litigation in the U.S. vs. Nixon case from the inside out, analyzing the constitutional issues that faced the court and the way in which the ...

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Overview

In June of 1972, the Democratic National Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., was the site of one of the most famous burglaries in U.S. history. The abortive Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up is reexamined in this book from the unique perspective of the Supreme Court judges, who grappled with its political and legal ramifications. Howard Ball presents the litigation in the U.S. vs. Nixon case from the inside out, analyzing the constitutional issues that faced the court and the way in which the justices worked to resolve conflicts, overcome obstacles, and arrive at an institutional opinion. In recounting the tragedy of Watergate from the viewpoint of the judges, the book makes use of a number of important original sources, including interviews and letters from the justices. Perhaps most important in telling this story, though, are the conference notes and docket sheets of the Court members, especially those of Justices William J. Brennan, Jr., and William O. Douglas. To set the Watergate tapes litigation against the proper background, Ball also examines the role of the federal judiciary in the political system, the crucial concept of judicial review, and the Supreme Court's processes and personnel at the time of the litigation. A selected bibliography and comprehensive index conclude the work. As a unique chronicle of the Watergate scandal, this book will be a valuable resource for courses in American history, legal studies, and the Supreme Court, as well as a significant addition to academic, legal, and public libraries.

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Meet the Author

HOWARD BALL is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Vermont.

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Table of Contents

Preface

The Supreme Court in the Political System

The Watergate Scandal Unfolds

The Supreme Court in 1974: Personae, Process and Politics

The Critical Issues: Separation of Powers, Executive Privilege, and Judicial Review (Revisited)

U.S. v. Nixon, I: The Duty to Hear the Case

U.S. v. Nixon, II: Written Briefs and Oral Arguments

U.S. v. Nixon, III: The Substantive Debate among the Brethren

Executive Privilege: The Court's Fashioning of an Inherent Presidential Power

Selected Bibliography

Index

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