By Ken Rudin
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.
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.
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.
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.
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© Copyright 1998 Ken Rudin