In 1971, William Rehnquist seemed the perfect choice to fill a seat on the United States Supreme Court. He was a young, well-polished lawyer who shared many of President Richard Nixon's philosophies and faced no major objections from the Senate. But in truth, the nomination was anything but straightforward. Now, for the first time, former White House counsel John Dean tells the improbable story of Rehnquist's appointment.
Dean weaves a gripping account packed with stunning new revelations: of a remarkable power play by Nixon to stack the court in his favor by forcing resignations; of Rehnquist himself, who played a role in the questionable ousting of Justice Abe Fortas; and of Nixon's failed impeachment attempt against William 0. Douglas. In his initial confirmation hearings, Rehnquist provided outrageous and unbelievable responses to questions about his controversial activities in the '50s and '60s yet he was confirmed with little opposition. It was only later, during his confirmation as Chief Justice, that his testimony would come under fire raising serious questions as to whether he had perjured himself
Using newly released tapes, his own papers, and documents unearthed from the National Archives, John Dean offers readers a place in the White House inner circle, providing an unprecedented look at a government process, and a stunning expose of the man who has influenced the United States Supreme Court for the last thirty years.
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About the Author
John W. Dean appears frequently on television, discussing matters relating to the Nixon presidency. He regularly reviews books for The New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tiibune, and Salon.com. He writes a regular column on legal, government, and political matters for the Internet publication Writ at wwwfindlaw.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was very pleasantly surprised to see that someone had finally included former US Supreme Court nominee Richard H. Poff in the annals of recorded national history. Poff was considered a shoo-in for the Supreme Court, despite opposition from many liberals. While some considered him a racist, many African-Americans spoke out openly and stated he was anything but a racist, since he had in reality helped their position. His record, both before and after the nomination, speaks for itself and Poff's brilliance as a jurist. In fact, he was a man who believed strongly in individual rights, and openly stated that no American citizen should ever be detained or imprisoned absent a specific act of Congress permitting it, which by necessity means that he would be opposed to President Bush's actions in the so-called 'War On Terror'. Those who have actually met Richard Poff know him to be a man who cares very deeply about people, who quite correctly followed the dictates of his constituents even if he disagreed, and who was vociferous in dedicating his life to ensuring justice and upholding the Constitution. Bear in mind, this is a man who had been in the House as a representative of the Sixth District of Virginia since 1956, so he served during a turbulent time in civil rights history. He made some ultimately rather unfortunate choices while representing that district, but they were all done because that's what his constituents wanted. Most unfortunate among these choices was signing the infamous Southern Manifesto, which opposed and defied the US Supreme Court on its decision in Brown v Board of Education. If he had not done so, he most certainly would not have been reelected, because his constituents wanted him to sign it. While at first glance it may seem that he sold out for reelection, or that this proves him a racist, think about it. He did exactly what a Representative is supposed to do once elected namely, act as the voice of their constituents, who otherwise would have no voice on national issues. Yet, once he was nominated for the US Supreme Court, that document came back to haunt him - and most disturbingly his family and especially his young son - in a very big way. A moderate conservative, Poff was well-respected in most circles, and seemed a perfect choice to change the tide of the liberal Warren Supreme Court. After all, he had served for years on the House Judiciary Committee, and was an attorney who had years of practical experience under his belt. Richard Poff was Nixon and Dean's first choice for the US Supreme Court, not Rehnquist. Almost immediately, 30 liberal Senators threatened a filibuster, and Poff was forced to make an unenviable choice: either destroy his family during the confirmation process, or drop out. Fearing that he would have to tell his then-12-year-old son that he was adopted - something he and his wife had never intended to do - he chose to withdraw from consideration strictly for personal reasons. Within weeks, and after it was announced that he would no longer be in the running, columnist Jack Anderson announced that adoption to the world. I still don't understand why Anderson felt the need to do that, and I'm sure no one else does, either - after all, how does having adopted a child effect anyone's qualifications for the US Supreme Court? As a direct result of Anderson's column, Poff ended up having to tell the boy that he was adopted anyway, despite the fact that protection of his son from that hurtful information is why he had withdrawn from consideration in the first place. One must therefore respect Poff as a man who made extreme sacrifices for the protection of his family, even if one does not respect his politics. Mr. Dean explains this very well in his book, and the story has been confirmed by that son. This book is not only a political one, it is a moral and ethical one for politicians and journalists everywhere - how far is too far? The adop
This is a very important book for all Americans. John Dean clearly shows how the political structure of this country has been changing over the course of the last two generations. What does this say of our situation presently? Much!!