The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

Related Items
  • Political Junkie Archive

  • ScuttleButton, Ken's weekly puzzle

  • Ken Rudin biography

    Politics Columns:

  • Early Returns
  • State of Play
  • Money Talks

  • Campaigns section

  •  
    Political Junkie
    Send your questions about campaigns and elections.
    Courting the Presidency

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to washingtonpost.com
    Friday, July 31, 1998

    Question: You recently mentioned that Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes ran for president in 1916. (See the July 16 column.) I'm aware that President William Howard Taft went on to become chief justice, and that there is some talk about Antonin Scalia running for president. Have any other presidents or presidential candidates been on the Supreme Court? – Joe Terrana, Alexandria, Va.

    Dougas
    Douglas resisted all entreaties to leave the bench and run for president. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    Answer: Taft is the only person whose resume includes the presidency and the Supreme Court. Hughes is the only justice who left to run for president, a bid he lost narrowly.

    One justice who considered hanging up his robe was William O. Douglas. With President Harry Truman's prospects for a victory in 1948 close to zero, many Democrats made a serious effort to draft Douglas for the presidency. Named to the Court in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas was also on FDR's short list for vice president in 1944 and was a longtime favorite of many liberals. But he wanted to remain on the Court. By the 1948 Democratic convention, Truman was convinced Douglas should be his running mate, but Douglas refused. He was not about to leave a lifetime position to join what seemed to be a losing ticket.

    Warren
    A year after an unsuccessful bid for the 1952 GOP presidential nomination, Warren was nominated to be chief justice. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    There's also Earl Warren. Prior to becoming chief justice, he was the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 1948 and the three-term governor of California. He also wanted to be president in 1952. His hopes were based on a united California delegation and a convention deadlocked between General Dwight Eisenhower and Ohio Sen. Robert Taft. But California Sen. Richard Nixon double-crossed Warren and gave Ike a key endorsement, virtually ending Warren's White House dreams (and elevating Nixon to the ticket).

    Still, Eisenhower was impressed with Warren's character and intelligence, and when Chief Justice Fred Vinson died early in Ike's term, the president named Warren to replace him. Eisenhower sounded out Warren as a possible vice president in 1956, when there was speculation that the president would dump Nixon from the ticket. But Warren refused to leave the court.

    A dozen years later, Nixon based much of his own presidential campaign on the alleged liberal excesses of the Warren Court. It has long been speculated, in fact, that Warren announced his resignation in June of 1968 because he feared Nixon would win in November and get to name his successor.

    As for Scalia, a story in National Review made a case for his candidacy last year. But nobody thinks he would even consider leaving for a presidential run, and conservatives would not look favorably on him creating an opening that would give President Clinton an opportunity to make a third court appointment.

    Question: Is there a constitutional ban on both members of a presidential ticket being from the same state? Has this ever happened when both were born in, but not residents of, the same state when they ran together? – Robb Metry, Arlington, Va.

    Answer: There is no problem with two candidates being born in the same state and running together on a ticket. In 1840, for example, William Henry Harrison and his running mate, John Tyler, were not only born in Virginia, but they were both born in the same county (Charles City County). "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" were elected that year, but Harrison died a month after his inauguration.

    The problem is where the candidates reside at the time of the election. There is no constitutional ban on both candidates residing in the same state, points out Steve Hess of the Brookings Institution. But Article II says that presidential electors cannot vote for candidates from the same state as themselves. In other words, if Lamar Alexander picked Fred Thompson as his running mate and carried Tennessee, the state's 11 electors could not vote for that ticket.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: junkie@washingtonpost.com

    Ken Rudin, a former editor at NPR and the Hotline, writes the "Political Graffiti" column for The Hill, a Capitol Hill weekly. He is also the creator of washingtonpost.com's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1998 Ken Rudin

    Back to the top

    Navigation Bar
    Navigation Bar