For a quick review, my prior blog detailed how a young Hillary Rodham graduated from Yale Law School in 1973, whereupon she accepted a job offer to be a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund under the auspices of its founder Marian Wright Edelman. This is when she played a key role in developing the law, affirming the right of a of children with disabilities to have access to a public school education. Her ties to this organization lasted until 1991. I described the 1970s as the Mad Men era when feminists were blazing trails through formerly closed off opportunities for women while overcoming resistance by the misogynists. In 1974, Ms. Rodham accepted a staff position on the House Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate.
In later years, there have been republican led attempts to discredit her life’s work Around 1992, the conservative right attempted to downplay her legal scholarship works regarding the welfare of children, by declaring that her theories would usurp traditional parental authority. Then in 2008 the right wingers started a rumor that in 1974 Hillary Rodham had been fired without a letter of reference from her staff position in the House Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate. This tale has been widely debunked by several news outlets over the years.
Note: Throughout the years, Hillary Rodham Clinton would write numerous legal scholarship works, the first of which was in 1973.
The source of the legal analysis below is from the 1992 Children and Youth Services Review; Vol. 14. pp. 473-483; Commentary: What Hillary Rodham Clinton Really Said About Children’s Rights and Child Policy by Duncan Lindsey University of Toronto and Rosemary Sarri University of Michigan. These legal authors took on the task of reviewing Hillary Rodbam Clinton’s 1973 legal writings on behalf of children to counter republican led distortions of her legal scholarship. Ms Lindsey and Ms. Sari respond, “As editors of a professional, scientific and scholarly journal in the children’s field our interest is to promote fair, careful and objective discussion of children’s issues. In this regard, we have been disturbed by recent efforts to misrepresent the views and contribution of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
“They continue to explain that “her legal approach can best be described as conservative, arguing for judicial restraint with respect to state involvement in family life. Taking into account her work on behalf of children through the Children’s Defense Fund we conclude that Hillary Rodham Clinton has been an important voice for the cause of children.”
Here are some excerpt from their analysis:
“She has made contributions to the professional literature on children’s policy in two of the most distinguished journals in the field; the Harvard Educational Review and the Yale Law Journal. These are considered among the most important professional forums in their field and have long traditions of upholding the highest standards of scholarship and research.”
In 1973, Hillary Rodham (Clinton) published the lead article in an issue of the Harvard Education Review that included several papers that have now become landmark contributions. In her article entitled, “Children Under the Law” Hillary Rodham Clinton examined the changing status of children under the law. This paper has been widely used and frequently cited. Essentially this paper provides an examination of children’s rights from a legal perspective. In fact, this paper served as the foundation for a later paper on the subject that was revised and shortened and written for the wider audience entitled, “Children’s Rights: A Legal Perspective.”
Children’s Rights and Coercive State Intervention
“After reviewing the emerging legal status of children, Hillary Rodham Clinton examines the rights of children subjected to child abuse and neglect (either physical, sexual or emotional). Hillary Rodham Clinton contrasts the two principal legal standards used to determine when the state should intervene in situations of child abuse and neglect: 1) “the best interest of the child” standard and 2) “the least detrimental alternative for the child” standard.”
“Examination of these standards represents the heart of her work. In her closing paragraphs Hillary Rodham Clinton writes, “Even though state interference with family privacy should be minimized because of the state’s unwillingness, or inability, to care for children as well as most families do, the state, representing the community of adults, has the responsibility to intervene in cases of severe emotional deprivation or psychological damage if it is likely that a child’s development will be substantially harmed by his continued presence in the family.” (p. 5 14)
“Hillary Rodham Clinton’s analysis of the many facets of children’s status and rights is excellent and this article has been the seminal piece for many cases in the U.S. Courts. In her second article published in an edited volume published by Teachers College Press of Columbia University, Hillary Rodham Clinton explains to a wider audience the essence of the discussion found in her legal scholarship.”
The above description about Hillary Rodham’s legal writings explains the reason she would be assigned in 1974, the task of writing an important legal memo as a staffer of the House Judiciary Committee Watergate investigation. Hillary’s tasks for her boss, John Doar included drafting a memo on the inner workings of Nixon’s White House, its hidden grids of power and buried lines of authority, who reported to whom. The exercise gave Hillary “an intimate view of a president practicing the dark art of Washington politics, doing whatever necessary to maintain his grip on power,” (SOURCE: 2007 Biography, “Her Way” by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. )
In the 11/6/15 Bloomberg News article, the author Sam Tanenhaus tells how the strange Nixon-Clinton bond was formed in mid1974. (This was) “the last act of Nixon’s downfall following the break-in and arrest at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in June 1972. In the next months, the broad outlines of White House crimes were sketched out and painstakingly filled in. The job was undertaken with delicacy and tact by the House Judiciary Committee, which was drawing up articles of impeachment, with a staff of bright law school graduates, including Hillary Rodham (Clinton).
“In those days, Congress relied on professional investigators (the Benghazi fiasco reminded us why), and a model of the type was the Watergate committee’s chief counsel, John Doar, a liberal Republican (remember them?) and moral ramrod. He imposed a strict code on the young impeachment staff—no shows of partisanship, no leaks to the press or even to friends, above all no gloating. Even among themselves, Nixon was to be referred to, at all times, as “the president.” Doar enforced a strict policy of total confidentiality. The excitement was all sublimated into the often-tedious work. At one point, Hillary, who had helped draft procedural rules, accompanied Doar to a public committee session and was instantly swarmed by reporters, looking for “human interest” from this attractive young lawyer. Doar was appalled. “I knew I would never be let out in public again,” Hillary recalled.”
“When Federal district judge John Sirica ordered (the secretly recorded Nixon tapes) released, Doar instructed some staff, including Hillary, to play the tapes and hear the spoken evidence in all its rawness. ”As she later recalled, she was one of the first people to hear Nixon unplugged. Most transfixing was what Hillary called “the tape of tapes.” It was Nixon himself listening intently, to previous recordings he had made and then testing out a new counter-testimony, while aides sat by. “He justified and rationalized what he had previously said in order to deny or minimize his involvement in ongoing White House efforts to defy the laws and the Constitution. Hillary remembered. “I would hear the President saying things like, ‘What I meant when I said that was…’ or, ‘Here’s what I was really trying to say…’ It was extraordinary to listen to Nixon’s rehearsal for his own cover-up.”
“But this was her baptism into the world of Nixon: the private obsession that colored public campaigns, the blurring of personal grievance and political mission.”
(1992) “Nixon told Maureen Dowd that the real trouble was Hillary. If the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent, it makes the husband look like a wimp.”
“Hillary appraised it coolly. “Either he was getting even with me because I was on the impeachment staff—because he has a very long memory—or it’s because he’s laying the groundwork for an attack on me, which has turned out to be the case.”
“What is confounding to her detractors is her steady glow of righteous innocence. Nixon radiated competence, but not idealism. Hillary exudes both in equal measure. The all-purpose cynicism of political journalism obscures the manifestly good—in Clinton’s case the honorable service dating back many years: the Methodist Youth Fellowship she belonged to as a teenager, helping migrant Mexican families; the long association with the Children’s Defense Fund; the landmark law-review articles she wrote on children’s rights, the legal aid clinic she founded, Arkansas’s first, in Fayetteville; her part in helping pass the SCHIP bill that extended health care coverage to 8 million children. On the issues where she is strongest—families, women, and children—Clinton quite possibly has accomplished more than any other politician of our time.”