chapter  XXV
XXV An Era of Discord and Crisis
Pages 12

Chief Justice Warren had made his retirement effective upon Senate confi rmation of a successor, and President Lyndon Johnson nominated Justice Fortas to replace him. A bitterly partisan confi rmation fi ght promptly erupted. Fortas, a staunch civil libertarian and proponent of judicial activism, would have kept the Court on the course Warren had charted. But a backlash had developed against some of the Court’s liberal decisions, particularly in the fi eld of criminal justice. Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate in 1968, campaigned hard for the presidency on the law and order issue. Contending that the Court had handcuffed the police, he promised to appoint justices who eschewed judicial activism and took a commonsense approach to law enforcement. Because Nixon was favored to win the election over a Democratic party divided and weakened by the Vietnam War, Warren’s resignation seemed timed to prevent the appointment of a conservative replacement. The upshot was an unprecedented Senate fi libuster to block Fortas’s nomination. Charges of cronyism fi lled the air, and Johnson fi nally withdrew the nomination at Fortas’s request.