Nixon’s Supreme Court nominee Harrold Carswell becomes an unlikely hero ? ! ?




Wait a minute. Wasn’t this guy the crummier of Nixon’s two nominees who were rejected by the Senate.


Didn’t he make a statement in favor of “white supremacy” when he was running for an office like 20 years before?


In addition, he was involved in some scheme to lease a city-owned golf course to a private club for $1 a year. Plus, he lied and said he couldn’t remember the details.

And finally, wasn’t this the guy about whom a Senator famously said “there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation” ? ? ?

Yes on all counts!

But sometimes people rise to a job and becomes a better person.

Let’s say Harrold does this. In particular, let’s suppose he becomes a centrist on the vital issue of school desegregation and helps steer the Supreme Court through the 1970s.
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“In 1976, Carswell pled guilty to battery for advances he made to an undercover police officer in a Tallahassee men's room. Then, in September 1979, Carswell was attacked and beaten by a man whom he had invited to his Atlanta, Georgia, hotel room in similar circumstances.”


Okay, so it sounds like Harrold was gay or bi- . And it sounds like he liked anonymous sex, and at times, commercial sex.

He had a wife he had married as a young man. And it’s still somewhat common even today for lesbian or gay persons to be in a conventional marriage. A person doesn’t always figure themselves out when young.

Let’s suppose Harrold and his wife have a reasonably amicable divorce.

Let’s suppose Harrold comes out of the closet around 1976.

And instead of the state of Vermont . . .



Let’s suppose it’s Harrold Carswell who comes up with the idea and concept of “Civil Unions” ! ! ! — which would be years ahead of its time in the 1970s.

<the commercial sex angle is going to be tough>
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Who got Carswell's would be seat? Bowers v Hardwick was 5-4 so it could have gone 5-4 the other way.

Kind of like Scalia being the 5th vote to protect flag burning.
And we really need Carswell to help find a way on equal schools.

In OTL in the mid-1970s, there was a Supreme Court case which ruled that a court can’t order busing between urban and suburban school districts, not unless there’s clear evidence that the suburban district engaged in past discrimination. Whatever the logic — and busing was never that popular with the public — this froze school equality.

It was a 5-4 decision and it pretty much lined up between conservatives and liberals.
Chief justice Burger thought it funny as heck, joking he would trade his pickles for a vote to be named later from Justice Marshall.

page 7 —

“ . . To the surprise of many onlookers, Powell's opinion in Keyes proposed nothing less than fundamentally reconceptualizing the judiciary's approach to the racial composition of schools by calling for the abandonment of the de jure / de facto distinction, . . ”

Emphasis added.

And . . .

Holy Shit. :openedeyewink:


More of the Court should have listened to Powell.

And just maybe, Carswell could have Powell’s second vote. And sometimes, “leadership by being the 1st follower” can be a powerful thing indeed.

Maybe both Powell and Carswell, as southerners, wanted to take some of the heat off the South. I’ll take it. Just might bring us a more workable national policy on equal schools, for North and South alike.
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McGovern described his record as being one of mediocrity and racism, the Supreme Court hardly needed any more of either
That’s why I’m calling Harrold Carswell an unlikely hero. 😃

And if the Senate confirms him, maybe President Nixon next appoints Blackmun and Powell, and never gets around to appointing Rehnquist. And I’ll take that as a net win.

And look, Harrold Carswell graduated from law school. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant. That doesn’t mean Ensign and it doesn’t mean Lieutenant, Junior Grade. In the Navy, a rank of Lieutenant is equivalent to the rank of Captain in the Army.

Most likely, Harrold was of above-average intelligence.

What he may not have been was a super nerd, into high falutin’ theories, and prone to getting into academic pissing contests.

Harrold may have realized that the law is for the average citizen and needs to be understandable to the average citizen. At his best, he may have thought of himself as a bridge person.

“Although the opinion is tentative in tone and structured in terms of presumptions and future proceedings, Keyes was widely, and accurately, viewed as a green light for district-wide (if not necessarily interdistrict) desegregation of northern school districts.”


Yes, this Keyes v. Denver School District (1973) could have set the tone for school desegregation in the 1970s.

But weirdly, it didn’t.
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“making clear that desegregation would not touch the suburbs”


This case was decided in July 1974, a year after the 7-1 Denver case. And there had been no change of membership on the Supreme Court.

So . . .

What the hell happened ? ! ?
It wasn't presented correctly. Wealthier parents wanted to defend their right to create deluxe schools, and didn't see the decision as putting the brakes on desegregation

“School finance reform, the remedy sought by urban districts and activists in the post-Milliken era, has made less difference than one would have hoped and has done little to bring most urban schools up to par with suburban ones.”



That hurts.