United States V. Nixon

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, Richard Nixon Pages: 5 (1514 words) Published: January 17, 2011
United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974)

A grand jury returned indictments against seven of President Nixon’s White House staff members and political supporters of the President for violation of federal statutes in the Watergate affair,. The President on the other hand was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator. The Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski filed a motion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure - Rule 17 for a subpoena duces tecum, a court summons ordering the President to appear before the court and produce tapes, documents and other tangible evidence relating to precisely identified conversations and meeting between President Nixon and his aides. The District Court initially treated the subpoena material as presumptively privileged, but then concluded that the Special Prosecutor made sufficient showing to justify a subpoena for production before trial. The District Court then issued an order for an in camera examination of the subpoenaed material, rejecting President Nixon’s contentions that the judiciary lacked authority to review his assertion of absolute executive privileged and the dispute between him and the Special Prosecutor was nonjusticiable as an “intra-executive” conflict.

The District Court of the District of Columbia issued an order for in camera assessment of subpoena material consequently rejecting President Nixon’s arguments. President Nixon then sought appellate review in the Court of Appeals. The Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski subsequently filed a writ of certiorari and President Nixon filed a cross-petition for a writ challenging the grand jury. The U.S Supreme Court granted both petitions.

Under the laws of the constitution, can the President of the United States, upon his non-indictment for conspiracy which violates federal law, invoke absolute executive privilege that interferes with a District Court order directing him to produce certain tape recordings and documents relating to his conversations with aides and advisers?

1. Article II Section 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments 2.Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure - Rule 17 (c): A subpoena may order the witness to produce any books, papers, documents, data, or other objects the subpoena designates. The court may direct the witness to produce the designated items in court before trial or before they are to be offered in evidence. When the items arrive, the court may permit the parties and their attorneys to inspect all or part of them.

3.Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

4.Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been...
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