The shades of Roger Taney, Caleb Cushing and Lewis B. Strauss are being invoked as the Senate struggles once more with its constitutional power to advise and consent on nominations to the president's Cabinet.
Eight times in history, according to files of the Library of Congress and the Senate Library, presidents have failed to win Senate confirmation for people they had chosen to sit in the Cabinet.The last time was on Jan. 19, 1959, when the Senate voted 49-46 to reject President Dwight D. Eisenhower's selection of Strauss to be secretary of commerce.
Strauss had survived by a vote of 9-8 in the Senate Commerce Committee but had made too many enemies in Congress as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission to clear the full Senate.
Then on Jan. 26, 1945, the same committee rejected by a vote of 14-5 the nomination of Henry A. Wallace as secretary of commerce, but the full Senate approved it 56-32 on March 1.
Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones, who had been asked by FDR to step down to make way for Wallace, opposed confirmation of the controversial former vice president and secretary of agriculture. Wallace had the backing, however, of organized labor.
It was the last time a Senate committee rejected a Cabinet nomination before the Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to reject the appointment of John Tower as secretary of defense.
The first president to have a Cabinet choice vetoed by the Senate was Andrew Jackson, whose choice of Taney to be secretary of the treasury was turned down on June 23, 1834. Taney, who was already serving in the post by a recess appointment, was later named chief justice by Jackson and confirmed for that post by the Senate.
President John Tyler, whose relations with Congress were soured by his vetoes of major pieces of legislation, had four Cabinet choices rejected. His selection of Cushing to be secretary of the treasury was defeated three times in one day - March 3, 1843.
Tyler later nominated James S. Green for the treasury post and he was rejected on June 15, 1844. The Senate also rejected his nominations of James Madison Porter for secretary of war on June 30, 1844, and David Henshaw for secretary of the Navy on Jan. 15, 1844.
Also rejected by the Senate was President Andrew Johnson's selection of Henry Stanberry to be attorney general in 1868.
President Calvin Coolidge's nomination of Charles B. Warren as attorney general was rejected twice, on March 10 and again on March 16, 1925.