G. Harrold Carswell; Rejected for U.S. High Court
Former federal appeals court Judge G. Harrold Carswell, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Richard M. Nixon then rejected by the Senate in a bitter political battle, died Friday.
Carswell, who was 72, died of lung cancer, said his son Scott Carswell of Tallahassee.
The former U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge died at Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center, his son said. The elder Carswell had retired in the mid-1970s and lived in nearby Monticello.
Nixon nominated Carswell for the Supreme Court in 1970 after the Senate rejected his nomination of Clement J. Haynsworth in a battle over ethics and civil rights.
The Senate rejected Carswell after reporters uncovered a speech in which he endorsed racial segregation as a legislative candidate in Georgia. Law experts also questioned his qualifications.
The twin rejections marked the first time since the presidency of Grover Cleveland in 1894 that two Supreme Court nominees had been turned down.
Nixon charged that the Senate would not confirm a Southerner to the court. The Senate unanimously approved Nixon’s third choice, Harry A. Blackmun of Minnesota, who remains on the court.
Blackmun filled a seat vacated by Abe Fortas in a 1969 scandal over the financial dealings of convicted stock manipulator Louis Wolfson.
Carswell resigned from the federal appeals court in New Orleans after his nomination to the high court was rejected.
Carswell sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1970 but was defeated in the primary. The eventual winner was a Democrat, Lawton Chiles, who is now Florida’s governor. Carswell later practiced corporate law in Tallahassee.
In 1976, he was convicted of a battery charge and fined $100 for making homosexual advances to an undercover Tallahassee police officer in a men’s room at a shopping mall. Carswell entered a written plea of innocent and refused to comment on the incident.
Carswell, a graduate of Duke University and a law graduate of Mercer University, served as a federal prosecutor for five years and a federal district judge for 12 years before joining the appeals court.
A funeral is scheduled for Sunday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee.
In addition to his son Scott, survivors include his wife, Virginia Simmons Carswell, two daughters, another son and seven grandchildren.