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Unsuccessful Supreme Court Nominee G. Harrold Carswell Dies

July 31, 1992

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Former federal appeals court judge G. Harrold Carswell, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Nixon then rejected by the Senate in a bitter political battle, died Friday. He was 72.

Carswell was diagnosed with lung cancer three weeks ago and died at a hospital, said his son, Scott Carswell of Tallahassee.

The former U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge 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 wouldn’t confirm a Southerner to the court. The Senate unanimously approved Nixon’s third choice, Harry Blackmun of Minnesota, who remains on the court.

Blackmun filled a seat vacated by Abe Fortas, who resigned in a 1969 scandal over his association with the family foundation of financier Louis E. Wolfson, convicted of stock manipulation in 1967. Fortas agreed to perform services for the foundation, though he later cancelled the agreement.

Carswell resigned from the federal appeals court in New Orleans after his nomination 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, now Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles. 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.

Current U.S. District Judge William Stafford of Tallahassee recalled arguing cases before Carswell when an attorney in Pensacola, and said Carswell persuaded him to join the judiciary.

″He ruled against me but my respect for him didn’t wane one bit. I thought he was very fair, and as just as he could make it,″ Stafford said. ″He imbued me with a sense of duty and public service.″

A funeral was scheduled for Sunday in Tallahassee.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Virginia Simmons Carswell, two daughters, another son, and seven grandchildren.

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