United States v. Nixon

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United States v. Nixon was a crucial separation of powers decision that held that the President could not resist a subpoena issued by a Special Prosecutor by claiming executive privilege.



The Watergate scandal was constantly creeping outwards in the Nixon administration, seeming to not have any end, as the web of deceit and coverups extended from the FBI straight into the White House. While the political fallout from Watergate in the form of impeachment proceedings was slowly making its way through Congress, the legal aspects of the case were also, in parallel, proceeding through the federal courts.

Jaworski sought a subpoena duces tecum, a legal document compelling the President to produce tapes and documents connected to the case.


The President filed a motion in District Court to quash this subpoena in the case of United States v. Mitchell. The District Court rejected his claims. The President appealed immediately to the Court of Appeals, but before the Court of Appeals could rule, both sides filed applications for certiorari with the Supreme Court, who granted it immediately.



The opinion of the Supreme Court was unanimous. (When Nixon heard this, he was confident that he had won.)



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