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Clement F. Haynsworth Jr., Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Nomination to . . . the Supreme Court, photograph by Warren K. Leffler, 1969

Clement F. Haynsworth, a South Carolina U.S. court of appeals judge, was President Nixon’s first choice to fill Abe Fortas’s vacated Supreme Court seat. His lackluster record on civil rights provoked strong opposition to his appointment, as did the appearance of impropriety when he ruled in a case for a firm that did business with a company in which he was a stockholder.

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Clement F. Haynsworth Jr.

Congress Rejects President Richard Nixon’s Nominees

President Richard Nixon had the opportunity to fill two Supreme Court seats in 1969 when Chief Justice Earl Warren retired and Associate Justice Abe Fortas resigned. The Senate approved Nixon’s choice of Warren Burger as chief justice, but filling Fortas’s vacated seat proved controversial. Wanting a more conservative court, Nixon sought a strict constructionist. The Senate rejected two nominees—Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell—before finally confirming Harry Blackmun in 1970.

“As we recall, this was perhaps the hardest fought nomination in over a generation, and it was made doubly difficult because the matter that concerned us centered on the very sensitive issue of judicial ethics.”

Senator Birch E. Bayh of Indiana, on the Nomination of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court, March 16, 1970