Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, which declared that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridge by the United States or any State on account of sex,” but the amendment was never ratified.
On November 29, 1969, a group of American Indians sailed to Alcatraz, the island in San Francisco Bay that formerly housed a federal prison. Led by Russell Means, they intended to occupy Alcatraz to protest the government’s treatment of Native peoples. The protestors demanded the return of the island to American Indians. They also sought funding for its development and maintenance. The government refused and, after nineteen months, removed the protestors from the island on June 11, 1971.
The New York Times published the first of a series of articles on the Pentagon Papers, a Department of Defense report on US involvement in Vietnam. The documents revealed government deception about its actions during the previous three decades.
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion fell under the Constitutional right to privacy. The Court mandated federal protection for pregnancy termination during the first trimester and allowed state laws limiting it during the second and third trimesters.
President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, which would have limited the number of strategic nuclear missiles in each country. Congress never approved the treaty.
In a series of events dubbed the “Saturday Night Massacre,” President Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor in the Watergate case, Archibald Cox; both the US attorney general and deputy attorney general refused the order and resigned in protest.