About William Bart Saxbe
William Bart "Bill" Saxbe (June 24, 1916 – August 24, 2010) was an American politician affiliated with the Republican Party, who served as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, as U.S. Attorney General under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, and as United States Ambassador to India.
At the time of his death, Saxbe was the second-oldest living Senator over all, and the oldest living Republican Senator.
Early life and career
Saxbe's law offices in MechanicsburgSaxbe was born in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, to Bart Rockwell and Faye "Maggie" Henry Carey Saxbe.
He received a bachelor's degree from the Ohio State University, Class of 1940, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, from 1940 to 1945.
When he returned from World War II, he entered Ohio State University law school. However, while still in law school, he ran for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1947 and won. In 1948, near the end of second term, he received a law degree.
He remained in the Ohio National Guard and was on active duty during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1952. He was discharged from the reserve with the rank of colonel in 1963. He served as the Ohio House majority leader in 1951 and 1952, and as speaker of the House in 1953 and 1954.
Higher political office
In 1957, Saxbe was elected Ohio Attorney General, defeating Democrat Stephen M. Young. He was re-elected three times and held that office until 1968. In this capacity, Saxbe argued the murder case of Doctor Sam Sheppard before the United States Supreme Court in 1966. He went up against Sheppard's attorney F. Lee Bailey.
He was a member of the Ohio Crime Commission from 1967 to 1968. In 1968, Saxbe was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating the Democrat's candidate former Ohio Rep. (1965-67) John J. Gilligan. He served in the Senate until December 1973, when he was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Nixon. Saxbe was the permanent replacement for Elliot Richardson, who had been fired by Nixon during the "Saturday Night Massacre" at the height of the Watergate scandal. Saxbe took over for Robert Bork, who had served as interim Attorney General during the two months following the "Massacre".
There was some minor controversy regarding Saxbe's appointment and the Ineligibility Clause of the Constitution. That provision states that a legislator cannot be appointed to an executive position during the same term that the legislature had voted to increase the salary of said position. Nixon addressed the problem by having Congress reduce the salary of the Attorney General to the level it assumed before Saxbe's term in the Senate had begun, a maneuver that had occurred once before and has since become known as the "Saxbe fix". Because there was no perception that anything intentional had been done to benefit Saxbe, the matter was largely ignored.
Gilligan, who had been elected Governor of Ohio in 1970, appointed Howard Metzenbaum to fill out Saxbe's term. Later that year, former astronaut John Glenn, another Democrat, was elected to replace Saxbe.
Saxbe served as Attorney General for the first few months of the Ford Administration before stepping down in early 1975, when he was appointed United States Ambassador to India. He served in that capacity until 1977. After that, Saxbe returned to Mechanicsburg and resumed the practice of law.
In 1940, he married the former Ardath Louise "Dolly" Kleinhans. They had three children: William Bart Jr., Juliet Louise, and Charles Rockwell. Charles served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, and was later an attorney in private practice.
Saxbe was known for his quips. Asked about Sen. Robert Dole, he commented that Dole was so unpopular with his fellow senators that "he couldn't sell beer on a troop ship."