Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife, Pat Nixon, moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as vice president. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for Governor of California in 1962, and an another presidential race defeated by George Wallace.
After four years of full political retirement, President Wallace appointed Nixon to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Abe Fortas. During his time in the Court, he was a strongly conservative judge.