Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Wronging Gerald Ford


Ed Whelan is right on target today in his critique of Justice John Paul Stevens.  But I want to draw attention to one rather small but telling feature of the Jan Crawford Greenburg story on Stevens to which Ed linked yesterday (the ABC web story based on her Nightline interview, that is).  Speaking of Stevens’s nomination to replace Justice William O. Douglas in 1975, Greenburg writes: “Ironically, Ford had tried to get Douglas off the Court five years ealier when, as House minority leader, Ford led the call for Douglas’[s] impeachment, largely because of his liberal ideology and sensational personal life.

What Greenburg thinks Ford’s impeachment effort was “largely” about includes one thing Ford specifically disavowed as grounds for impeachment—Douglas’s “liberal ideology”—and another thing that Ford never mentioned at all—his “sensational personal life.”  In the terms that laymen are still free to use despite the wrongheaded New York Times v. Sullivan ruling, I think this might well count as libelling Gerald Ford.  It certainly shows little respect for the facts about Ford’s great speech advocating Douglas’s impeachment, about which I wrote here last week, and which you can read for yourself here.


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