The case of United States vs. Nixon was a pivotal moment in Watergate that led directly to the resignation of the President.
In April 1974, the Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, obtained a subpoena that ordered Nixon to hand over a number of White House tape recordings and other papers.
Nixon turned over edited transcripts of 43 conversations. These included portions only of 20 tapes demanded by Jaworski. Nixon then sought to have the subpoena quashed. Judge John Sirica ordered Nixon to turn the tapes over by May 31. The matter was then appealed to the Supreme Court by Nixon and Jaworski.
The court heard oral arguments in the case on July 8, 1974. Nixon was represented by his attorney, James St. Clair.
Justice William Rehnquist recused himself from hearing the case. The unanimous decision (8-0) was delivered on July 24, 1974 by Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Nixon was ordered to hand over the tapes. When he did so, the infamous smoking gun tape showed that Nixon had ordered the Watergate cover-up on June 23, 1972, just six days after the burglary. The revelation caused Nixon’s public and congressional support to collapse and he resigned on August 9.
- Listen to the oral arguments (180m)
- Watch a video presentation (180m)