Sunday, October 30, 2005

Clement Haynesworth

The withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court brings to mind another failed nomination -- that of Clement Haynesworth, who was born on this day in 1912 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Haynesworth was a somewhat flamboyant but respected Greenville lawyer when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit by Dwight Eisenhower in 1957. President Nixon attempted to appoint Haynesworth to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Abe Fortas (following allegations that he received questionable honoraria), but Haynesworth's appointment was scuttled in the Senate when it was discovered that Haynesworth's wife owned stock in a company which came before him in litigation in the Fourth Circuit. Senate Democrats also claimed he was too conservative when it came to civil rights and labor issues, and they were still pretty sore about the Fortas thing.

You never can tell about such things, however. Remaining on the Fourth Circuit bench, it has been noted that Haynesworth's opinions were largely responsible for liberalizing prisoner's rights in the Fourth Circuit. As a sidelight, I'm told he was also, incidentally, the Circuit's authority on insurance "suicide" cases involving sexual self-asphyxiation.

Unfortunately, Haynesworth is today unfairly grouped with Nixon's other failed appointee, Harrold Carswell -- about whom Nebraska senator Roman Hruska, trying to give his support to an unsupportable candidate, said "Mediocre people deserve representation, too." Haynesworth died after an illustrious career as a jurist, in 1989.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A footnote to history is the fact that the Federal Building in Greenville has been named after Judge Haynesworth by the same congress that rejected a fine man years before. The record states that this is "an apology etched in stone".

7:48 PM  

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