[FoRK] Chief Justice William Rehnquist died Saturday at age 80
Stephen D. Williams
Sat Sep 3 20:39:57 PDT 2005
Chief Justice Rehnquist has died
Saturday, September 3, 2005; Posted: 11:29 p.m. EDT (03:29 GMT)
Chief Justice William Rehnquist
Save on All Your Calls with Vonage
When looking for local regional and long distance calling, use Vonage to
MyCashNow - $100 - $1,500 Overnight
Payday Loan Cash goes in your account overnight. Very low fees. Fast
Comcast High-Speed Internet
Order today for a $19.99/mo. special, free modem, plus get $75 cash back
Refinance Rates Hit Record Lows
Get $150,000 loan for $720 per month. Refinance while rates are low.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
William H. Rehnquist
or Create Your Own
Manage Alerts | What Is This?
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who helped shift
the U.S. Supreme Court toward a more conservative ideology and strongly
supported states' rights during his three decades on the bench, has died.
Rehnquist, who presided over the court for nearly 19 years, was 80.
Rehnquist, who had been receiving chemotherapy and radiation for thyroid
cancer, died at an Arlington, Virginia, hospital surrounded by his three
children, a court spokeswoman said.
He was working in his office until a few weeks ago," CNN Producer Bill
"He loved his job and continued to work until the very end," he added.
The chief justice was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in October 2004, not
long after the 2004-2005 court session began, and received outpatient
radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Rehnquist adjourned the court in late June amid speculation that he
would resign before justices reconvened in October for the new term. He
quashed that idea in July, hours after he left a hospital where he was
treated for a fever.
"I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my
imminent retirement," he said in a written statement. "I am not about to
announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief
justice as long as my health permits." He returned to work the following
Rehnquist's announcement followed the surprise retirement of 75-year-old
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 1.
After Rehnquist began his cancer treatments, he worked at home until
March 21, causing him to miss oral arguments in a number of cases. He
attended President Bush's inauguration January 20 to administer the oath
of office, but stayed on the platform for less than 15 minutes.
On his first day back at work in March with the other justices,
Rehnquist showed no emotion, paid sharp attention to the argument
presented in the first case and asked eight or nine technical questions.
His voice was fairly strong; he had a tracheotomy tube in his throat to
assist his breathing.
Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1972 by President Nixon
and was elevated to chief justice in 1986 by President Reagan, replacing
In that role, he led the closed-door conferences where justices discuss
and vote on cases; assigned who wrote the majority rulings; managed the
docket; controlled open court arguments; and supervised the 300 or so
court employees, including clerks, secretaries, police and support staff.
Rehnquist, who belonged to a loose, 5-4 conservative majority, was the
second-oldest man to preside over the nation's highest court.
Early in his tenure, he often was the lone dissenter, despite the
presence of two other Republican appointees. He served on the bench
under seven presidents.
David Yalof, a constitutional law professor at the University of
Connecticut, credited Rehnquist with moving the court in a consistent,
"He was able over time to gather colleagues together cordially, manage
tension, build a majority and turn them over to his point of view,"
Rehnquist followed the legal philosophy of judicial restraint, which
interprets the U.S. Constitution narrowly.
He believed the only rights protected by the Constitution are those
specifically named, and that justices should consider the framers'
original intent when making rulings.
Shortly after Nixon named him as an associate justice, Rehnquist and
Justice Byron White were the only dissenters in the landmark Roe v. Wade
case (1973), which established that a woman's right to an abortion was
protected under a woman's right to privacy.
"To reach its result, the court necessarily has had to find within the
scope of the 14th Amendment a right that was apparently completely
unknown to the drafters of the amendment," Rehnquist wrote in his dissent.
The chief justice strongly supported states' rights, and usually took a
state's side when it was sued over violating federal law on issues such
as age discrimination or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
He supported the death penalty, homosexual rights and free speech.
In 2003, Rehnquist broke ranks with fellow conservatives by offering a
rare rebuke against states' rights.
In the Hibbs case, a state worker was given the right to sue Nevada
officials under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act for denying him
time to care for his ailing wife. Rehnquist contended Congress had the
right to address a record of sex discrimination against women and men in
"He showed real diplomacy in moderating his viewpoint to satisfy the
larger concerns of the court, to put his stamp on a ruling with wide
impact," said Yalof.
In 1999, Rehnquist became the second chief justice in U.S. history to
preside over a presidential impeachment -- that of President Bill
Clinton, who was acquitted.
Rehnquist was a student of the court when he wasn't there.
He wrote books on its history and on the impeachments of Justice Samuel
Chase and President Andrew Johnson.
Jay Jorgensen, a 1999 judicial clerk for Rehnquist, said Rehnquist was a
"You have to give credit to his unbelievable success moving the justices
to where he always believed they should go," said Thomas Goldstein, a
leading Supreme Court litigator.
Having already sat on the court for 14 years, Rehnquist quickly matured
in the role of chief justice. He cut the number of cases the court
agreed to hear, streamlined conferences and sought clearer, strongly
Jay Jorgensen, a former clerk for the chief justice, said it was the
little things Rehnquist did that built personal trust, loyalty and
respect among justices who were often sharply divided ideologically.
"He set up a system during conferences where every justice, one by one,
in order of seniority, is allowed to weigh in on a case," Jorgensen
said. "There is no free-for-all debate, the chief justice does not allow
Still, legal scholars agree Rehnquist's legacy has some holes.
Despite the court chipping away slightly at the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling,
the right to an abortion remains the law of the land.
"On affirmative action and Miranda rights, among other things, Rehnquist
hasn't gotten everything he wanted," said Tom Goldstein, a partner in a
Washington, D.C.-based law firm that handles only Supreme Court cases.
"Across the board there are disappointments. The stakes remain high,
there are still many 5-4 votes, but he has been successful keeping the
individual battles from turning into larger wars."
William Hubbs Rehnquist was born in Shorewood, a suburb of Milwaukee, on
October 1, 1924. His father was a paper salesman. Rehnquist married
Natalie Cornell of San Diego, and they had a son and two daughters.
After serving in the Air Force in World War II, Rehnquist attended
Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor's degree, followed by a
master's in political science in 1948. He received another master's in
government at Harvard in 1950, before returning to Stanford for a law
degree. He graduated first in his class in 1952.
His friends described Rehnquist as warm and witty, with a love for poker.
Jorgensen recalled a small party Rehnquist hosted at his home with
"We were playing charades, and he was very good at it -- funny, animated
and enormously sharp," he said, "but also a stickler we play by the
rules, and ensuring the fairness of the game. That sums up what kind of
person he is, inside and outside the court."
swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw
More information about the FoRK