United States V Nixon


United States V. Nixon Essay, Research Paper


Historical Context- President Richard M. Nixon was being charged of trying to cover up the Watergate incident. Watergate was and still is the headquarters for the Democratic Party. Some of Nixon s men broke into the complex and tried to wire tap the telephones. However, the bread in went bad. So, they went in the second time but this time they were caught by a security guard. They were taken to prison. The reason why the men wanted to wire tap the phone was so that they can try and find some dirt about the Democratic candidate running against Nixon for the Presidency. When the men were taken down to jail, they were being asked why were they wire tapping the phones, they did not talk. Because Nixon was paying them to keep quiet. But, they eventually they started talking. They told everyone that President Nixon was involved with the crime. Even though Nixon was not in charge of sending these men to the Watergate Complex, his Chief of Staff was. This gave the idea that he was some how tied in to the crime.

The wire-tapping was not a very large crime, all Nixon had to say was that he did not do it. He wouldn t have been lying. However, Nixon did not say this. Instead of confessing it to the public he decided that he could try and cover it up. This is what got him in trouble and would eventually lead to being the first President in United States History to resign out of the Presidency. He was lucky though because he was pardoned by vice-president Gerald Ford. He tried to cover this crime up by paying the people in jail to stay quiet and by having the FBI get rid of all of the evidence that was found in the scene of the crime. He also tried to with hold evidence from congress.


418 U.S 683 (1974)

Facts of the Case- Nixon tried to hold evidence back from Congress. The evidence that he tried to keep from congress was the tapes that recorded Nixon talking to his staff in private. He ruled the Executive Privilege to try and keep the tapes away from Congress. Executive Privilege is a privilege that let the president to with hold evidence or information that could lead to endangering the Nations Security. He claimed that by taking these tapes and playing them, it will be hazardous for the Nations security. The reason he said this was because the Watergate recordings were on the tape and also top secret information that was passed or used in the Oval Office. He claimed that if some of these recording were played that it would hurt the government more that it will hurt him.

The reason why Congress wanted this evidence so bad was because they wanted to know the truth. Once the truth and all of the evidence is shown then they will have to make a choice in weather they should impeach Nixon or not. If Nixon were to be impeached then he would have been the second President of the United States to be impeached form office. The first President of the US that was impeached was Andrew Johnson.

Constitutional Issue- The constitutional issue in United States v. Nixon (1974) had to do with he right of the President using the Executive Privilege. This issue was very controversial because it had to do with the rights of the president, congress, and National Security. It involves the President because the President has the right to with hold evidence from Congress or any other part of the government if it the evidence will endanger the countries National security. However, Congress who has the right to ask information from the president is protected through the governmental system of checks and balances. The President must report to Congress with all requested information. Congress also has witnesses that say that in the tapes that President Nixon has is the proof that President Nixon was involved in the Watergate cover up. So basically the court is going to have to decide whose rights will be interfered with and the court is interpreting the constitution in cases with executive immunity.

Decision in the Case- When the decision went to the Supreme Court, it was known all over the country as the famous case under United States v. Nixon. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to reject the plea that President Nixon called for with Executive Immunity. The significance of this decision is that if Nixon has to give the tapes up then it would eventually lead to him resigning the Presidency. This would make United States History by being the first President in the United States History to resign the office of the presidency. The decision is also significant because this is the first time in the United States History that a President is denied the Executive Immunity. This comes to show that not even the President is above the law. This is an example of the implementation of the US s checks and balances system.

Majority Decision- The decision of the judges were all towards one side. All eight judges that were present voted to release the tapes to Congress. At this time Chief Justice William Rehnquist was not participating in the decision. This gave Justice Burger the acting Chief Justice. This meant that the eight Judges thought that getting rid o a bad President is worth the risk of taking away the Immunity Privilege away from the President. One Judge spoke out and gave his opinion.

Justice Warren E. Burger wrote, Nowhere in the Constitution … is there any explicit reference to a privilege of Confidentiality, he also said, yet to the extent this interest relates to the effective discharge of a President s powers, it is constitutionally based. (The Supreme Court A to Z.)


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