“Richard Nixon considered naming the first woman to the Supreme Court. He was thwarted.”

Remarkable story from the Washington Post:

Chief Justice Burger had delivered a letter to Mitchell telling him there was no woman qualified to be on the court. According to Mitchell, Burger recommended “the same bunch of names, all the 65- and 69-year-olds of the bench.” Mitchell said the letter was moderate in tone, but then Burger upped the ante by coming to Mitchell’s office personally to read a provisional letter of resignation should Nixon nominate a woman.

“I told him that was very unwise,” Mitchell said. Nixon went ballistic. “Fine, fine,” he interrupted. “I accept [the resignation], I accept it, right now, right now!”…

In the end, Burger did not have to back down because someone on the ABA committee leaked to the press that the committee had found Lillie “not qualified,” by a vote of11 to 1.

Nixon seemed relieved when he told one of his advisers about the ABA vote — he could take the credit for trying to nominate a woman but could deflect blame for defeat to the ABA. “That played right into our hands,” he gushed.

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