Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Between 1900 and 1968, the Senate had refused to confirm an appointee to the Supreme Court on only one occasion. Then, within a two year period, the Senate twice refused to confirm an appointment: Associate Justice Abe Fortas, nominated as Chief Justice in 1968, was never acted upon because of a Senate filibuster,and his name was withdrawn; and Judge Clement Haynsworth, whose nomination provoked a great deal of debate and controversy, was ultimately rejected by the Senate by a vote of 55 to 45. These two incidents marked a distinct change from the traditional custom of Senatorial acquiescence to Presidential appointees. In this article Professor Beiser suggests that the basis for the Haynsworth and Fortas incidents is the growing conflict over the role of the Supreme Court. This conflict, he argues, is also important in understanding the internal workings of the Supreme Court and the Court's relationship to the President, Congress, the lower federal courts, and the public.