Watergate: An Anatomy of a Constitutional Crisis

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Rodriguez, Teresa
Written for HST 390 - Research Methods Abstract Legal Historians debate if Watergate should be considered a constitutional crisis. In 1973, President Nixon abused his executive power to cover up his office's criminal behavior in regard to the Watergate break-in. Historians disagree on whether or not his actions passed the threshold required to constitute a constitutional crisis. This paper argues that Watergate should be considered a constitutional crisis. Using three examples of defined types of constitutional crises: Ohio's defiance of the Supreme Court over the M'Culloch v Maryland (1819) ruling by the Court, President James Buchanan's refusal to force South Carolina to remain in the Union leading to the Civil War, and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus' defiance of the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954,1955), along with the criteria of each, Watergate will be examined for similarities, and to demonstrate that it meets the criteria set forth.
This is the winning entry in the FODL Undergraduate Student Writing Contest.