nThis case stems from President Nixon’s refusal to comply
with a subpoena directing him to
produce the infamous Watergate
Tapes, which Nixon argued were protected by executive privilege.
nWriting for a unanimous Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger concluded that “when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought
for use in a criminal trial
is based only on the generalized interest
in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice.”
nPresident Nixon reluctantly complied with the Supreme Court’s decision, surrendered the incriminating tapes,
and resigned as President.
nThis decision is generally regarded as a vindication of
the rule of law over
political power and a fundamental reaffirmation
of our constitutional democracy.