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Legal Brief of United States v. Nixon (1974) by David A.W. Hittle

United States v. Nixon (1974) Vote: 8-0 418 U.S. 683; 94 S.Ct. 3090; 41 L.Ed. 2d. 1039


The Facts of the Case are these: A Special Prosecutor was named to investigate, actions of the President of the United States and his staff. The Prosecutor presented a subpoena to the President Richard Nixon, the President under Executive Authority, refused to comply with the subpoena, the case made its way to the Supreme Court.


The Issues in this case are these: 1. Is the President of the United States required to comply with subpoenas’ from special prosecutors charged with investigating you?


The Decision in the case by a vote of 8 to 0 is: No, The President of the United States may not ignore of refuse to comply with a subpoena of special prosecutors.


Chief Justice Burger delivered the majority opinion of the Court: The Supreme Court found that the President’s implied power of confidentiality was submissive to the enumerated right of due process. Burger opined: “We conclude that when the grounds for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on generalized interest in confidentiality; it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice.” The generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.


Justice Rehnquist did not participate in this decision.


The Case cemented the fact that implied powers must yield to enumerated ones. It also cemented that confidential rights do exist but only when it doesn’t interfere with other constitutional powers & rights…