Case #544.4

The Saturday Night Massacre (Supplement)

Publication Date: January 01, 1977
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In October 1973, the US Court of Appeals ordered President Nixon to deliver the "Watergate Tapes" to Judge John Sirica's court. This case examines the resulting dispute between Nixon, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox over whether Nixon would surrender the tapes, a dispute that culminated in Cox's dismissal and Richardson's resignation on Saturday, October 20. The case describes the personal attitudes and actions of the individuals involved in light of the larger context of the Watergate scandal and Nixon's ongoing Middle East negotiations. The case concludes with a brief description of the public outrage which followed Cox's dismissal and a discussion of the effects of the "Massacre" on the subsequent course of the Watergate affair.

Learning Objective:
The case illustrates how players in the political process use personal and institutional power to communicate with and influence others. Use of this power is tinged with moral ambiguities; thus the case may also serve as a vehicle for discussing ethical tensions facing public servants-for instance personal vs. professional loyalties, and protection of the constitution vs. national security.

Other Details

Case Author:
Mark Ziering, William Powers
Faculty Lead:
Mark Moore, Philip Heymann, Melanie Billings-Yun, Richard Neustadt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States