The Burger Court (1969–86)

First Amendment

What immediate effect of great political import did the Court’s decision have?

The Court issued its unanimous decision in United States v. Nixon on July 24, 1974. President Nixon released the tapes, including the so-called “smoking gun” tape that revealed Nixon ordering the FBI to quit investigating the Watergate break-in. President Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, rather than face impeachment.

A television screen shows President Richard Nixon announcing his resignation on August 8, 1974. This occurred after the United States v. Nixon ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court forced the president to turn over audiotapes that incriminated him in the Watergate scandal. Nixon had claimed that he had executive privilege and was not required to turn over the tapes. Pierre Manevy/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

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