Last modified on June 6, 2020, at 22:10

Howard Phillips

Howard Jay Phillips​

(Leading figure of the conservative movement in American politics)

Born February 3, 1941
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died April 20, 2013 (aged 72)​
Vienna, Virginia

Resting place:
Saint John the Apostle Catholic Cemetery in Leesburg in Loudon County, Virginia

Political Party Republican (before 1974)

Democrat (1974-1991) Constitution Party (1991-2013)

Spouse Margaret Elizabeth Blanchard Phillips (married 1964–2013, his death)

Douglas, Amanda, Bradley, Elizabeth Amanda Lants, Jennifer. and Alexandra Phillips​
Eighteen grandchildren
Frederick and Gertrude Goldberg Phillips
Alma mater:
Harvard University

Religion Jewish convert to Evangelical Christianity (1970s)

Howard Jay Phillips (February 3, 1941 – April 20, 2013) was a three-time American presidential candidate who served as the chairman of The Conservative Caucus, a conservative public policy advocacy group founded in Warrenton, Virginia, which he founded in 1974. Phillips was also a founder in 1992 of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, which in 2000 became known as the Constitution Party. ​


Phillips was born into a Jewish family in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts; his father, Frederick Phillips was an insurance agent; his mother, the former Gertrude Goldberg, a homemaker,[1] but he converted to evangelical Christianity as an adult in the 1970s. A 1962 graduate of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was twice elected chairman of the student union. He was also the president of Policy Analysis, Inc., a public policy research organization which publishes the bimonthly Issues and Strategy Bulletin.​ He retired in 2011 as chairman of The Conservative Caucus.

Phillips resided in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with his wife, the former Margaret "Peggy" Elizabeth Blanchard, and their three sons, Douglas, Bradford and Samuel, and three daughters Elizabeth Amanda Lants, Alexandra, and Jennifer; and 18 grandchildren.[2]


During the Nixon Administration, Phillips headed the Office of Economic Opportunity, but he resigned in the spring of 1973, when Nixon, starting his second abbreviated term as president, declined to veto Great Society social programs launched by his Democratic predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been the successful vice-presidential candidate in 1960 against Nixon's running mate, Moderate Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts. Phillips was hopeful that Nixon could move the country to the right. He investigated spending on many federal programs and found that the money was being diverted to liberal advocacy groups. Nixon, however, felt forced to yield to the large Democratic majorities in Congress, whose members backed the Great Society.[2] In fact, after Phillips resigned from the OEO, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit subsequently voided the Phillips appointment on the grounds that the law establishing the office did not specifically permit the president to make an interim appointment.[3]

Phillips was present in 1960 at the age of nineteen at the launching by William F. Buckley, Jr. of the group, Young Americans for Freedom, which drafted the "Sharon Statement" of unyielding conservative principles in Sharon, Connecticut. In 1968, he managed the successful senatorial campaign of Moderate Republican Richard Schweiker in Pennsylvania, later a member of the Reagan Cabinet. After working in nearly all facets for the Republican Party, Phillips switched to the Democrat label in 1974 and that same year established the nonpartisan grass-roots public policy organization, the Conservative Caucus, which he chaired from its inception until 2011. The caucus opposed the transfer of the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama, a measure pushed to passage by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. It also fought the SALT II treaty with Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union, which it claimed would weaken American defenses in the Cold War. The caucus supported Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and the tax reductions of the 1980s. In 1978, Phillips ran as an unsuccessful Democratic primary candidate for the United States Senate seat held by the Moderate Republican Edward Brooke, the first African-American in the body since Reconstruction, who supported the Great Society. Brooke was renominated but then unseated by the Democrat Paul Tsongas, who later attracted national attention as an unsuccessful challenger to Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries.[2]

In 1982, Phillips and the Houston political activist Clymer Wright urged Reagan to dismiss James A. Baker, III (DOS), a Houston attorney and close ally of then Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush. Reagan rejected the Wright-Phillips request, and in 1985, named Baker as United States Secretary of the Treasury, at Baker's request in a job-swap with then Secretary Donald T. Regan, a former Merrill Lynch officer who became chief of staff. Reagan also rebuked Phillips and Wright for waging a "campaign of sabotage" against Baker.[4]

Phillips strongly opposed the since modified North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the globalist World Trade Organization. He supported a national version of California's Proposition 187 (1994), which sought to end mandated subsidies for illegal aliens. He fought public funding of abortion and opposed the homosexual agenda. Phillips was the host of Conservative Roundtable, a weekly public affairs television program.​ More so than not, his positions did not come to political fruition.

Phillips and fellow conservatives Richard Viguerie, known as the innovator of direct mail in the 1964 political campaign, Paul Weyrich of The Heritage Foundation, and Terry Dolan (1950-1986), founder of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, urged the Reverend Jerry Falwell, pastor of the large Liberty Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, to form in 1979 the since disbanded Moral Majority. He later founded the Council for National Policy with another conservative minister, Tim LaHaye, a group akin to the liberal Council on Foreign Relations.[5]

Opposing Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter

The fight against James Baker was not Phillips' first clash with Reagan. The year before in 1981, he and his friend, the Reverend Jerry Falwell opposed the fateful nomination of Moderate Republican Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona to the United States Supreme Court in order to fulfill Reagan's campaign promise that he would appoint the first woman to the high court. According to Phillips, "People say you can't tell how a Supreme Court nominee will turn out once on the bench. I respectfully disagree. In most cases, it's very clear. I opposed the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor because it was very clear that she had a pro-abortion record in the Arizona State Senate and as a state court judge. She was also allied with Planned Parenthood."[6]

In 1990, Phillips opposed the first President Bush's nomination of David Souter of New Hampshire to the high court. Phillips said that he opposed Souter because "I read his senior thesis at Harvard in which he said he was a egal positivist and one of his heroes was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and that he rejected all higher law theories, such as those spelled out in our Declaration of Independence. In addition, he was a trustee of two hospitals: Dartmouth Hitchcock and Concord Memorial. He successfully changed the policy of those two hospitals from zero abortion to convenience abortion."[6]

The Reagan-Bush selections of O'Connor and Souter preserved Roe V. Wade in a key 1991 Supreme Court decision.

U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party

Phillips was one of the founders of the U.S. Taxpayers Party , which changed its name in 1996 to the Constitution Party. Phillips first campaigned for president in 1992, when he refused to support the re-election of George H. W. Bush in the race against Bill Clinton of Arkansas. He finished in seventh place in the popular vote with 43,369 votes (0.04 percent).

In 1996, Phillips was nominated by the U.S. Taxpayers Party, in San Diego, California, where the Republicans also met to nominate the unsuccessful Bob Dole-Jack Kemp ticket. Phillips finished sixth with 184,656 votes (0.19 percent).​

In 2000, Phillips ran as the Constitution Party nominee against Moderate Republican George W. Bush and Al Gore, the vice-president under Bill Clinton and a former U.S. senator from Tennessee. In that contest, Phillips received 98,020 votes (0.1 percent).[7]


Phillips died at his home in Vienna, Virginia, on April 20, 2013 at the age of 72 after a battle with frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease.[6] A private service was held on April 29, 2013. The officiating pastor, Chuck Baldwin, had been the 2008 Constitution Party presidential nominee who opposed John McCain and Barack Obama, and later Donald Trump. Baldwin titled his message, "A Great Man Has Fallen."[8]

He is interred at Saint John the Apostle Catholic Cemetery in Leesburg in Loudon County, Virginia.[9]

Selected writings

  • The New Right at Harvard (1983)​
  • Moscow's Challenge to U.S. Vital Interests in Sub-Saharan Africa (1987)​
  • The Next Four Years (1992)​
  • Judicial Tyranny: The New Kings of America? (contributing author) (March 2005) (ISBN:0-9753455-6-7).​


  1. Profile of Howard Phillips. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bruce Weber (April 23, 2013). Howard J. Phillips Dies, 72; Stalwart Conservative. The New York Times. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  3. 482 F2d 669: Harrison A. Williams, Jr. (U.S. Senator from New Jersey) v. Howard J Phillips (Acting Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity). OpenJurist. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  4. Phil Gailey and Warren Weaver, Jr., (June 5, 1982). Briefing. The New York Times. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  5. Jeremy Learning and Rob Boston (October 2004). Who Is The Council For National Policy And What Are They Up To? And Why Don't They Want You To Know?. Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Daniel J. Flynn (January 3, 2012). Interview with Howard Phillips. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  7. 2000 official presidential general election results. Federal Election Commission. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  8. Chuck Baldwin (April 2013). A Great Man Has Fallen. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  9. Howard Jay Phillips. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.