Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: October 20, 1973


10/20/1973: The Saturday Night Massacre occurs.

President Richard Nixon

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  1. At the time Bork said he stayed on (by firing Cox) to prevent a “mass exodus” from DOJ. But I think he simply agreed with Nixon that Cox should be fired.

    1. Bork said he was going to resign, too, but the prosecutor who resigned told him not to, that they needed to push through and let things unfold.

      1. Was that Richardson or Ruckelshaus?

        1. I think it was Ruckelshaus.

          I am not much of fan of Bork, but I think the argument he made was generally correct. You can’t understand the Saturday Night Massacre in terms of actually blocking Nixon. You can’t block Nixon. He clearly had the power to fire the special prosecutor. Someone was going to do it, and frankly, if we lived in a country where a sitting President, even a disliked one, gives a lawful order and the entire government refuses to follow it, basically that’s a coup d’etat.

          So Nixon’s going to get to fire Cox. And once you concede that point, there was no point in going all the way down until some Assistant to the Assistant to the Deputy Assistant does it. 2 resignations spoke clearly enough about what they were protesting.

  2. There is no period of his that repeats exactly like another, but the late 2010’s and 2020’s are shaping up to look a lot like the 1970’s.

    That was a depressing decade where the economy was in the crapper, people were hungover from the politically liberal excesses of the 60’s, and everything was just gloomy. I remember thinking in 1980 when Reagan got elected that things might be turning around finally, but it really wasn’t until the 1983 that there was a ray of sunshine.

    I hope our the coming Dark Age doesn’t last that long…

    1. Obama, Clinton, and now Biden — enough corruption to make Nixon look like a blushing virgin by comparison.

      1. You guys are funny.

  3. Nixon did nothing wrong.

    1. So strange to see you now giving a pass to Obama and Clinton. Ok, fair is fair, I suppose.

    2. Nixon wasn’t really THAT bad all things considered. The Left hated him and had it out for his entire Presidency (sound familiar?) Nixon was considered to be the “roadblock” from the Left achieving what it set out to start in the 60’s and they would have none of it. Nixon’s biggest fault was not playing the game the right way. He used governmental/state action when he should have been down in the dirt. That was his undoing.

      When historians look back at the last four years of Trump, especially if he loses re-election, the one thing that will astound them is how he managed to skate by all the attempts to undo him. In that vein, he achieved what Nixon couldn’t do.

      But I would take the politics of the late 80’s and the entire 90’s over today. I think most of America would agree.

      1. I actually agreed with a lot of Nixon’s policies. But what’s different now is the only standard seems to be that if your side benefits, it’s OK. Whereas in an earlier era it was understood that both sides were expected to at least pay lip service to playing by the rules and norms, and if you got caught not doing so, there were consequences. When the tapes came out with Nixon ordering a stonewall, his own Republicans turned against him. Barry Goldwater told Nixon that if there was a trial in the Senate, he might get 15 Republican votes.

        If Nixon had had Trump’s Congress, he would have finished his second term. If Trump had had Nixon’s Congress, he’d have been out on his ass and headed to federal prison six months into his term.

        1. There was an understanding between the parties until the 2000’s. I don’t know exactly when it broke down but probably somewhere around the second Gulf War.

          The Dems never really minded “the rules” because they always favored them. Republicans played the game and won occasionally, but Dems like Tip O’Neil knew they always had the long game. Newt broke that a lot in 1994 and an attempt to go back in 2008 created Obama.

          I don’t necessarily mind a set of rules agreed to by each party. It helps provide consistency especially in Washington, but don’t expect it from Republicans if it is the “old rules” which favored the Dems.

          1. There was an understanding. I don’t know how it broke down but it was unfair to conservatives and sucked.

            Well, answering your own question there, eh? The right has basically decided all rules and institutions are unfair and suck.

            1. “The right has basically decided all rules and institutions are unfair and suck.”

              Pretty rich coming from someone whose party wants to eliminate the Electoral College and Senate and pack the courts. Just because they lost one election with the worst campaigner since Bryan.

              No wonder people here think you gaslight.

              1. Bob, do you disagree that the electoral college is unfair? You may like that it benefits your side, but can you at least acknowledge that it’s an unfair institution?

    3. I wouldn’t expect a racist Republican from Dumbed Down, Ohio to think so.


      “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

      “You don’t know how to lie. If you can’t lie, you’ll never go anywhere.”

      “I want to make sure he is a ruthless son of a bitch, do what he’s told, that every income tax I want to see I see, that he will go after our enemies and not our friends. Now it’s as simple as that. If he doesn’t he doesn’t get the job.” — on appointing an IRS commissioner

      “I don’t give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall—plead the Fifth Amendment, cover-up, or anything else. If that will save it, save the plan.” –to his subordinates in the White House during Watergate

      “Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get them. The way I want that handled is…just to break in. Break in and take it out! You understand? … You are to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them out…Just go in and take it! Go in around eight or nine o’clock. And clean it up.” — ordering his chief of staff to break into the Brookings Institute and steal files for use in blackmail

      “You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates. Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags….You know what happened to the Popes? It’s all right that Popes were laying the nuns, that’s been going on for years, centuries, but, when the Popes, when the Catholic Church went to hell, in, I don’t know, three or four centuries ago, it was homosexual.”

      “I’m not for women in any job. I don’t want any of them around. Thank God we don’t have any in the cabinet.”

      Billy Graham: “This stranglehold (of Jews in the media) has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.”
      Nixon: “You believe that?”
      Billy Graham: “Yes, sir.”
      Nixon: “Oh, boy. So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”
      Billy Graham: “No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something.”

      “You know, it’s a funny thing. Every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists.”

      “You know, the big Jewish contributors to the Democrats. Could we please investigate some of the c***s***ers? That’s all.”

      “I think we ought to move tanks, the whole goddamned thing. Put a division in there, if necessary, It’s time for action on it. If some Indians get shot, that’s too goddamned bad. If some Americans get shot, that’s too bad, too.” — on the standoff at Wounded Knee

      “It must not appear that you’re trying to affect the network’s news content. That’s what you must do, but you must not appear to be doing that. That would be stupid.” —ordering staff members to get Bill Moyers’s new show on PBS off the air

      1. New York Times: “We need to find someone to steal Trump’s tax returns and give them to us…”

        Everything changes, but stays the same…

        1. The New York Times is not the government.

        2. No, Jimmy, America changes . . . and, throughout my lifetime, it improves.

          This bothers conservatives, who liked a racist, misogynist, gay-bashing, superstition-privileging society. They can’t stand all of this progress, education, reason, inclusiveness, and modernity. Mostly, they can’t stand that the liberal-libertarian mainstream has won the culture war at conservatives’ expense, and that the roles of religion, intolerance, and backwardness in our society seem destined to continue to diminish. Our nation is positioned to continue to become less rural, less religious, less backward, less bigoted, and less White throughout the foreseeable future.

          Sentient conservatives recognize this and have become desperate enough to embrace last-gasp strategies. The problem with a last-gasp strategy, however, becomes apparent toward the end of that gasp.

          All the clinging in the world can’t save conservatives in today’s America — or tomorrow’s. The Republican Party must change or die.

          I vote “die” but would accept change that removes the bigotry, stale thinking, and ignorance- and superstition-based positions from the Republican platform.

          America is great because it improves. May the better ideas continue to win.

        3. Is that a verbatim quote taken from a verified audio recording, the way that all of the Nixon quotes you are replying to are?

  4. Arthur, you misunderstand Bob’s position.

    Bob’s position is that the standard for right or wrong is *whether it benefits his side*. Period, full stop. Nixon did what he did in the service of conservative values, so it was right. Had Nixon been a Democrat and done exactly the same things, it would have been wrong. Very simple and straightforward analysis.

    1. That is what large factions of the left use as justification as well. Looting is fine when done by BLM because it encourages social change. Lockdown protesters (who don’t break the law) on the other hand are white devils who deserve to be thrown in jail.

      1. Jimmy, can you name anyone on the left who either (1) condones looting; or (2) wants to lock up people for not wearing masks? I suppose you can find someone somewhere who supports just about anything, but I’ll be surprised if you can find any mainstream leftists who do.

          1. Get back to me when the author of the 1619 project actually wins an election.

    2. Nixon did nothing that LBJ, JFK or FDR did not do first.

      LBJ was the most corrupt president ever, a thief, liar and cheat. Whatever you think Trump might have done, he did first and more. LBJ makes Trump seem like a perfect gentlemen as well.

      Nixon was no conservative either. An anti-Communist New Dealer really.

      1. BUT WHAT ABOUT?????????

        OK, Bob, you’ve now changed your argument. Your original argument was that Nixon did nothing wrong. You’re now arguing that other people did bad things too. Even if you’re right about that, how does that excuse Nixon?

        If I get a speeding ticket, do you really think it’s a defense that other people were speeding too?

        1. “If I get a speeding ticket, do you really think it’s a defense that other people were speeding too?”

          I saw that work about thirty years ago. A few minutes later, a local lawyer explained that the defendant was the magistrate’s brother-in-law and horseshoes partner.

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