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Remarks to Reporters About Nominations to the Supreme Court

April 09, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

As you know, I have just met with the Attorney General today and also last evening with regard to the appointment to the Supreme Court.

After the Senate's action yesterday in rejecting Judge Carswell, I have reluctantly concluded that it is not possible to get confirmation for a judge on the Supreme Court of any man who believes in the strict construction of the Constitution, as I do, if he happens to come from the South.

Judge Carswell, and before him, Judge Haynsworth, have been submitted to vicious assaults on their intelligence, on their honesty, and on their character. They have been falsely charged with being racists. But when you strip away all the hypocrisy, the real reason for their rejection was their legal philosophy, a philosophy that I share, of strict construction of the Constitution, and also the accident of their birth, the fact that they were born in the South.

Four of the present judges of the Supreme Court are from the East. One is from the Midwest and two are from the West. One is from the South. Over 25 percent of the people live in the South. The South is entitled to proper representation on the Court.

But as I have often said to members of this White House press corps, more important than geographical or other kind of balance in the Court is philosophical balance.

And I have concluded, therefore, that the next nominee must come from outside the South, since this Senate, as it is presently constituted, will not approve a man from the South who shares my views of strict construction of the Constitution.

I, therefore, asked the Attorney General to submit names to me from outside the South of judges from the State courts, appeals courts, as well as the Federal courts, who are qualified to be on the Supreme Court and who do share my view, and the views of Judge Haynsworth and Judge Carswell, with regard to strict construction of the Constitution.

I believe that a judge from the North who has such views will be confirmed by the United States Senate.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 4:20 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Richard Nixon, Remarks to Reporters About Nominations to the Supreme Court Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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