Charles W. Sandman, 63, a New Jersey Republican who served in the House of Representatives from 1967 to 1975 and who was a staunch defender of former president Richard M. Nixon during impeachment hearings, died Aug. 26 at a hospital in Cape May Courthouse, N.J., after a stroke.
The conservative congressman gained national attention on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 when he backed Nixon during the televised impeachment proceedings.
He said later in interviews that his support of Nixon stemmed not from friendship but from his view that the hearings were unconstitutional. He contended there was no concrete evidence presented to warrant the proceedings.
Mr. Sandman supported Nixon until the court-ordered release of the Watergate tapes, which indicated the president knew about the coverup of the burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters.
He said in a 1975 interview that he was not bitter after Watergate but felt he was betrayed by Nixon because the president did not tell him about the tapes.
He also said he realized his vote against impeachment would not save Nixon and probably would shatter his own political career. In November 1974, he lost his congressional seat and did not even carry his home county in southern New Jersey.
"Sure, I'd do it all over again. I'd have to, given the same circumstances," Mr. Sandman said in the interview.
After his loss at the polls, Mr. Sandman became a businessman. In one unsuccessful venture, he tried to team up with boxer Muhammed Ali to launch a burger and chicken restaurant chain in black neighborhoods of large cities.
Of the seemingly unusual alliance between a Vietnam War hawk and a conscientious objector, Mr. Sandman had said, "Ideology has nothing to do with it. We're going to make money."
Last year, New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean appointed Mr. Sandman to a seven-year term on the Superior Court bench. At the time of his death, he was chief judge of the family court in Cape May County.
Mr. Sandman was a native of Philadelphia and served with the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II. He was a graduate of Temple University and Rutgers University's law school.
He served in the New Jersey Senate from 1955 to 1962, then spent five years as chairman of the New Jersey State Narcotics Investigating Committee. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1966. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1973, losing to Brendan Byrne. In the Republican primary, he had defeated Gov. William Cahill in an upset.