by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Judge Orders Release of Nixon Watergate Testimony
A federal judge has ordered the public release of Richard Nixon's secret grand jury testimony about Watergate. Nixon was grilled for two days in June of 1975, 10 months after he resigned from office. He was the first former U.S. president to testify before a grand jury.
Historians believe that Nixon's grand jury testimony will shed light on the president's involvement in the Watergate burglary and subsequent coverup. It was reported at the time that Nixon was questioned about the notorious 18½-minute gap in the Oval Office tapes, a $100,000 campaign contribution from reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, and other as-yet-unsolved mysteries of Watergate.
Thirty-six years after the testimony, and 17 years after Nixon's death, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth decided that the unusual historical value of the 297-page transcript justifies a rare exception to grand jury secrecy. This isn't the first time a court has ordered the unsealing of grand jury testimony of exceptional historical interest. For example, courts released grand jury testimony from the Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg cases.
“The special circumstances presented here – namely, undisputed historical interest in the requested records – far outweigh the need to maintain the secrecy of the records,” Lamberth wrote. “The Court is confident that disclosure will greatly benefit the public and its understanding of Watergate without compromising the tradition and objectives of grand jury secrecy.”
Nixon's testimony won't be released immediately because the government still has the option to appeal.