NOTE RETRACTION BELOW!
A fellow lawprof points to this excerpt:
The last time there were simultaneous vacancies at the court was 1971, when Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan retired in September, about a week apart. Rehnquist, then a Justice Department lawyer, urged the Nixon administration to move fast in replacing them. After Nixon's first two choices were harshly criticized, he named Lewis Powell and Rehnquist.
Unless I'm mistaken, though, the harsh criticism of Nixon's first two choices happened in 1969 and 1970, after Justice Fortas resigned and Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell were rejected. Both Powell and Rehnquist were nominated in October 1971, and confirmed in December 1971.
Not a huge error (smaller than this one, for instance), but still a reminder to be careful when reading even highly reputable news sources, even when they are written by specialist journalists who have a generally fine reputation.
UPDATE: Except the error seems to be mine! Fellow lawprof Mark Tushnet reports:
The AP reporter was (almost certainly) referring to the brouhaha over Herschel Friday (for Black's seat) and Mildred Lillie (for Harlan's). Neither was officially nominated (or, as is the current practice, noticed officially as a "proposed nomination"), but Nixon's consideration of them was widely leaked and generated the opposition to which the AP reporter referred. John Dean's book, The Rehnquist Choice, goes through what happened in excruciating detail.Aha! My apologies to the reporter, and to my readers, and my thanks to Mark for setting the record straight. Remember: Don't believe everything you read . . . .