Sunday, September 04, 2005
  We Shall Not Soon See His Like Again
“We believe that Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled consistently with our traditional approach to stare decisis in constitutional cases."

Born October 1, 1924, the grandson of Swedish immigrants, William Hubbs Rehnquist was quite a character.
"He was the enthusiastic host of an annual, old-fashioned employee Christmas party at the court. At a time when many schools, government offices and private businesses quietly did away with overtly Christian holiday symbols, Rehnquist led the singing of traditional Christmas carols.
"Rehnquist has led a quiet social life outside the court. Until recently, he walked daily, as tonic for a chronic bad back, and played tennis with his law clerks. He enjoyed bridge, spending time with his eight grandchildren, charades and a monthly poker game with Scalia and a revolving cast of powerful Washington men. He liked beer, and smoked in private."(AP)
Rehnquist attended public elementary and high schools in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. Following his service in the air force during WWII, Rehnquist attended Stanford University, where he earned a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science in 1948; he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1948. He continued his education at Harvard University where he earned another M.A. in Government in 1950. He then returned to Stanford University to earn his LL.B.; he graduated first in his class in 1952. (Ironically, Rehnquist dated future Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor while they were students at Stanford)
"On issues of federalism, Rehnquist saw, from the beginning of his tenure, that Congress had usurped power - believing its powers, specifically enumerated in the Constitution, were somehow unlimited and unquestionable. Many law school professors, unfortunately, abetted the view that Congress's power was limitless.
"But Rehnquist exhibited a steadfast devotion to the notion that there must be some limit on Congressional power, else there would be no province for the States at all. He expressed this view, first, in dissent after dissent - and finally, during the 90s, his dissenting views became majority views.
"This was a welcome evolution of federalism doctrine. Now, Congress at least asks itself what the constitutional source of its authority is - if any -- before it legislates.
"This doctrinal evolution, as I explain in a previous column, was no revolution: It merely returned constitutional doctrine to its authentic origins. Congress is a body of enumerated, not plenary, power: The Constitution says as much, but until Rehnquist came to power, and other Justices like Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia joined the Court, the Court had simply ignored what the Constitution had to say on this central topic.
"In addition to acting as a moderating force in his Chief Justice role, Rehnquist has been probably the most successful Chief in history, in terms of running the work of the Court with efficiency and dispatch.
"The loss to the Court if Rehnquist must step down will also be a tremendous personal loss. He is one of the nicest men you will ever meet - with a love of history, a great sense of humor, and a love of tennis, which serve to humanize his imposing presence.
"In sum, the Rehnquist-bashers need to think twice before they try to argue he is not a model to follow. I think he is.
"President Bush will face a difficult task in replacing Chief Justice Rehnquist, if and when he must. There may be a temptation within the Republican Party, with its power in the White House and both Houses of Congress, to go with a nominee who is a "true conservative." One can only hope that means a Justice like Rehnquist.
(Marci Hamilton)
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Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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