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Judge Douglas Ginsburg's Marijuana Use – 1987

Feeding Frenzy In November 1987, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg was forced to withdraw as President Ronald Reagan's nominee for a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat that had been earlier denied to Robert Bork. The reason: Ginsburg's admission that he had used marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s while a college student and Harvard Law School professor.

The disclosures about Ginsburg, first made by National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg and The Washington Post's Al Kamen, sparked a series of confessions to the press by other politicians about youthful drug experimentation, from U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.) on the left to U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on the right. Included among the penitents were two Democratic presidential candidates at the time, U.S. Sen. Albert Gore of Tennessee and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt. Neither contender appeared at all damaged by their admissions of drug use in their 20s.

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© Copyright 1998 Larry J. Sabato

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