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Title: To face down Dixie : South Carolina's war on the Supreme Court, 1954-1970
Author: Heath, James Owen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 2148
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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South Carolina offers a history of defiant politicians who sought to protect their state from federal interference. With the Supreme Court handing down some of the most important rulings in US history, including Brown (1954), Baker (1962) and Miranda (1966), three South Carolinian Senators – Olin Johnston, Strom Thurmond and Ernest ‘Fritz’ Hollings – waged war on the Court through the judicial nominations process. In scrutinising presidential nominations and attempting to restrict the power of the Court, these Senators played leading roles in the most explosive confirmation battles in recent history, including those of Thurgood Marshall, Abe Fortas and Clement Haynsworth. The South Carolinians defied not only the Democratic Party leadership but also time-honoured Senate traditions of hierarchy and seniority. In maintaining their conservative credentials, they ensured continuous re-election, yet the dominance of the state’s conservative segregationist political establishment, which maintained control of South Carolina’s legislature, drowned out the moderate voices that remained critical of each Senator’s obstructionism. A comparative lack of violence has been identified in South Carolina’s transition to ‘integration with dignity’, but the behaviour of the state’s Senators in the nominations process in Washington, DC was anything but dignified or peaceful. In fact, South Carolina has played the most important, and overlooked, role in the development of Supreme Court nomination hearings into political, and confrontational, public events. The state’s war on the Court would transcend ‘massive resistance’ to civil rights, highlighting questions of law and order, obscenity, communist subversion and school prayer in a radical, ground-breaking response to the Court’s role as the final arbiter of policy. Furthermore, the South Carolinian experience suggests that existing studies of Supreme Court nominations as ‘one-off’ events are narrow and restrictive, and the practice of emphasising the final vote on a nominee’s confirmation or rejection is unhelpful in understanding this complex process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JK Political institutions (United States)