Research Paper: US v. Nixon


Please select one of the following Supreme Court cases and write a 15 page research paper on it. The case you select for your research paper cannot be a case that you have already written a reflection essay on this semester. Your research paper should focus on placing the case in historical and constitutional context. Consider questions such as: what were the key precedents for this ruling? Why was the case important at this specific moment in history? What impact did this ruling have on subsequent history and constitutional law?

Your paper must be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and written in a 12-point font (i.e. like this). Otherwise, it will not be accepted. Papers must be based on research in primary sources, and should demonstrate your familiarity with scholarly secondary sources. Your paper must use at least two primary sources and f ive secondary sources (with at least three of your secondary sources being books, the remaining two can be scholarly articles). It is okay if you wish to use additional sources. You may not use any internet sources unless they are approved in writing by the professor beforehand, and internet sources will not count towards the required two primary and five secondary sources. You will have to go to the library, and may have to use interlibrary loan. Plan to manage your time accordingly.

All papers m ust have a bibliography, and must be thoroughly documented with either footnotes or endnotes. Follow the format given in Turabian’s guide. If you do not have Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations ( Univ. of Chicago Press ), you should invest in a copy. Your paper will not be accepted if you fail to follow these guidelines.

Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in accordance with university regulations, and may include (probably will) failure for the course.

Select one of the following cases:
Marbury v. Madison
Fletcher v. Peck
Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
McCulloch v. Maryland
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
Dred Scott v. Sanford
Charles River Bridge
Ex Parte Milligan
Slaughter House Cases
Munn v. Illinois
Schenck v. U.S.
Lockner v. N.Y.
Brown v. Board of Education
Missouri v. Canada


                                             US v. Nixon

The status of the US Supreme Court as the final arbiter in determining the meaning of the US constitution is significant in US v. Nixon. The Marbury v. Madison in 1803 is the starting point of the debate about judicial review. This discussion arose when President Jefferson refused to deliver the commission of a judge appointed by President Adams[1]. The Court declared the power to deliver the commission even though it did not require the President to do it in this case. In the 20th century, similar issues were raised when President Nixon confronted the Court regarding the presidency and the power of the judiciary. In this case, the executive privilege makes the President immune from participating in the criminal justice process. In 1974, in the US v. Nixon, the US Supreme Court ruled that no one is above the law, including the President, who is accountable to the judicial process[2]. As a result, President Nixon was ordered to produce the tapes that serve as evidence in a criminal proceeding, thus confirming that the Constitution provides an executive privilege and the President is not above the law or immune from the judicial process.

                                     History of US v Nixon

In the nation’s early history, the power of the judicial review was developed as a general proposition, but its specific implication has changed through subsequent case law. For example, in the mid-20th century, the authority of the Court was challenged by various states in order to push for the prohibition of segregation of public schools. In 1957, in Cooper v. Aaron, the US Supreme Court cited Marbury v. Madison to reaffirm that it had the power to review the law, thus ordering the end of segregation[3]. The decision in this case affirmed the constitutional authority held by the Court to both the states and the federal government. However, there was another challenge to judicial reviews like in Cooper v. Aaron and Marbury v. Madison but involved the Court and the President. This challenge emerged during the presidential election campaign of 1972 when a burglary of Democratic party national headquarters. After two years, the grand jury indicted some executive advisers and aides in an investigation of a special prosecutor, and Nixon was named as an unindicted coconspirator. According to the request of the special prosecutor, the district court subpoenaed tapes and documents that held the conversations of President Nixon and his advisers and aides[4]. Nixon provided edited transcripts relating to his conversations and also quashed the subpoena on the basis of the executive privilege protecting the tapes and other materials. The controversy moved to the US Supreme Court after the district court rejected Nixon’s arguments.

The US Supreme Court cited the Marbury v. Madison, where it had ruled that President Jefferson acted unconstitutionally by when he prevented William Marbury, who was appointed by President Adams, from assuming his office. Unfortunately, in Marbury v. Madison, the Court could not order Jefferson to allow Marbury to take his appointment because the suit was unconstitutionally brought before it[5]. Being one of the cases that discussed the separation of powers among the branches of government, Marbury v. Madison was cited in the US v. Nixon to reaffirm that in determining constitutional issues and questions, the Court was the final answer and to help confirm that the President was not above the law. The two cases have similar issues regarding the jurisdiction of the courts, but they had different outcomes. In Marbury v. Madison, the court did not order Jefferson to seat Marbury, but in US v. Nixon, Nixon was forced to provide his tapes to the Watergate Committee.

The Watergate scandal led to the US v Nixon after the arrest of burglars who had broken into the National Democratic headquarters in 1972 to tape the conversations[6]. However, it was discovered that someone from Nixon’s reelection committee had transferred money to these burglars. After the investigation indicated that Nixon’s advisers and aides had known about the burglary, thus showing that the break-in was a part of the political manipulation system and had tried to cover up the illegal activities. Some of Nixon’s top advisers and aides had been charged with lying to investigators, thus impeding justice.  Nixon was named as a coconspirator because, and when a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, was appointed to determine his involvement in illegal activities or their cover-up, it was revealed that his all conversations were automatically recorded in tape recorders.[7] These tapes were crucial in the ongoing investigation, but President Nixon refused to provide them when the special prosecutor subpoenaed them due to the executive privilege. After failing to comply with the subpoena and refusing to provide the tapes, the issue was presented to the US Supreme Court.

                 Summary of the Arguments surrounding US v. Nixon

                                Preeminent Arbiter of the Constitution’s Meaning

President Nixon made two arguments in favor of disobeying the subpoena. At first, he argued that the courts did not have the power to force him to provide the tapes because the dispute was between a president and a special prosecutor, thus making it an issue of the executive branch that was not subject to judicial resolution. This leads to a fundamental issue about the US Constitution, specifically the question of who should interpret, including the rights it protects and its basic values. This issue has inspired a debate that is yet to be solved, but according to Thomas Jefferson, all the branches of the government have the power to interpret the Constitution but only when the issue at hand involves the particular branch’s own performance and functions……………for help with this assignment contact us via email Address:

[1] Tushnet, Mark V. Arguing Marbury v. Madison. Stanford University Press, 2005, p. 51.

[2] Van Meter, Larry A. United States V. Nixon: The Question of Executive Privilege. Infobase Publishing, 2009, p. 37.

[3] Clinton, R. L. (1994). Game theory, legal history, and the origins of judicial review: A revisionist analysis of Marbury v. Madison. American Journal of Political Science, p. 288.

[4] Wicker, Tom. One of us: Richard Nixon and the American dream. Vol. 99. New York: Random House, 1991, p. 245.

[5] Clinton, R. L. (1994). Game theory, legal history, and the origins of judicial review, p. 290.

[6] Hartman, Gary, Roy M. Mersky, and Cindy L. Tate. “United States v. Nixon.” Landmark Supreme Court Cases. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004, p. 1.

[7] Van Meter, Larry A. United States V. Nixon: The Question of Executive Privilege. Infobase Publishing, 2009, p. 68.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *