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Clement Furman Haynsworth Jr.

Clement Furman Haynsworth Jr. was a controversial judge on a federal appellate court who was nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court but failed to win confirmation.

Born October 30, 1912, in Greenville, South Carolina, and raised in South Carolina, Haynsworth graduated from Furman University in 1933 and from Harvard Law School in 1936. He then returned to his home state and practiced law there for nearly 20 years. In 1957, President DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER appointed Haynsworth to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Haynsworth became chief judge of the court in 1964.

In May 1969, Associate Justice ABE FORTAS, whose earlier nomination to become chief justice was withdrawn amid charges of financial impropriety and conflict of interest, resigned his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after new charges of unethical conduct were raised. Later that summer, President RICHARD M. NIXON nominated Haynsworth to succeed Fortas.

Reaction to Haynsworth's nomination was mixed. Some commentators thought him to be a competent nominee, if not particularly distinguished, whereas others expressed disappointment at his conservative judicial views. No U.S. Supreme

Clement F. Haynsworth Jr.

Court nominee had been denied confirmation since 1930, and it initially appeared that Haynsworth would be confirmed with little debate.

In the confirmation hearings that followed, however, Haynsworth faced serious conflict-of-interest allegations. It was disclosed that he had participated in two cases involving subsidiaries of companies in which he held stock. Senators opposing his nomination also revealed that Haynsworth had purchased stock in a corporation after he had voted in its favor in a decision but before the decision was announced by the court. In addition, labor and CIVIL RIGHTS groups voiced opposition to Haynsworth's nomination, contending that he did not support their causes. Nevertheless, the SENATE JUDICIARY

COMMITTEE narrowly approved Haynsworth's appointment in a 10–7 vote.

In November 1969, the full Senate, mindful of the controversy that had surrounded Fortas's ethical improprieties, rejected Haynsworth's nomination by a vote of 55–45. This was the widest margin of defeat ever for a Supreme Court nominee.

Haynsworth's failure to win confirmation was widely viewed as a major political setback for President Nixon. A second Nixon nominee for the Fortas seat, Judge G. HARROLD CARSWELL, another southern conservative, was widely viewed as unqualified for the Court and his nomination was also defeated. The vacancy was finally filled in May 1970 by Judge HARRY A. BLACKMUN, of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, who was confirmed unanimously.

Following his defeat, Haynsworth returned to the court of appeals. He became a senior judge in 1981, and he remained with the court until his death November 22, 1989, at the age of 77.


Frank, John Paul. 1991. Clement Haynsworth, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia.

Kotlowski, Dean J. 1996. "Trial by Error: Nixon, the Senate, and the Haynsworth Nomination." Presidential Studies Quarterly 1.

"Remembering the Fourth Circuit Judges: A History from 1941 to 1998." 1998. Washington and Lee Law Review 55 (spring).

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