Skip to comments.Rehnquist's 'Lone Ranger' record leaves Bush something to shoot for
Posted on 09/12/2005 11:17:06 PM PDT by Crackingham
William Rehnquist was the most unlikely of appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. He had no experience as a judge, and his boss, former President Richard Nixon, would embarrassingly refer to him as "Renchburg." But after serving more than 33 years on the Supreme Court, the last 19 as chief justice, Rehnquist proved to be among the greatest justices ever. He set the judicial standard at a very high level.
Rehnquist took his seat on the Supreme Court on Jan. 7, 1972. A mere two months later, he brazenly disagreed with all the other justices and issued his first lone dissent.
He went on to establish his reputation for dissenting alone, earning him the nickname "the Lone Ranger." Rehnquist was never one to seek accolades from the media or his colleagues, and penned more than 410 dissenting opinions over his marvelous career.
One of his early dissents, in 1973, was to a majority decision invalidating state laws allowing maintenance grants for nonpublic and religious schools in Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist. Rehnquist had joined a Supreme Court that was almost unanimously hostile to all things religious, as well as liberal in many other ways.
Nearly 30 years later, Rehnquist prevailed with his 5-4 decision in Zelman v. Simmons Harris upholding school vouchers that parents could use to attend religious schools. Rehnquist's view became mainstream, to the benefit of all Americans.
Rehnquist as much as Reagan, Goldwater and Nixon helped shape modern conservatism. He has left very big shoes to fill.
Watch out, some people will bash you for liking Nixon...
I'd rather bash on Goldwater. I wasn't around to see him in his heydey, but everything I've heard from him in the last several years has sounded pretty liberal, especially his take on abortion.
Roberts is no Rehnquist.
Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.
See, his allegience is to stare decisis, not the constitution. In fact, the only time Roberts even mentions the constitution is when he referred to the Russian constitution.
Bush has not given us a justice "in the mold of Scalia and Thomas" and to top off the betrayal of his promise he made to conservatives, he has named Roberts chief justice.
The Roberts nomination needs to be defeated.
You are correct. He did not mention the Constitution, he did mention precedent and the "decisional process." Oh well. I'm about ready to go back to not paying attention to politics.
Could I get your definition of "several"?
Goldwater wasn't a liberal. He was maybe a libertarian, but not a liberal. Have you read Conscience of a Conservative? Great book.
Yes, Goldwater was a libertarian above all. He was an ardent defender of liberty as one of his most famous quotations made clear. Goldwater was a great man who, unfortunately, in his very senior years made statements that appeared to undermine his conservative credentials. But, he forged the way for Reagan. I accept the common wisdom that he fell under the sway of the nurse who became his second wife.
Rehnquist was a great Chief Justice. Fair, an excellent administrator of the court and a champion of the principles of federalism that form the foundation of our government. He is only surpassed by his idol, John Marshall, who, unlike Rehnquist, was able to forge majorities and unanimity again and again even with Jeffersonian appointees to the Court.
As to Judge Roberts, he is a brilliant but mainstream jurist with conservative leanings from what we have seen.
What I look for most in a jurist is the ability to evaluate arguments and to apply principles of law to fact in a manner that is faithful to the Constitution. His statements about stare decisis are pretty standard. If you look at Supreme Court opinions, one could conclude the Court has always been engaged in correcting the decisions of earlier courts. It is a soft concrete on which the Court treads.
If I were on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I would ask Judge Roberts what books are in his library and what books he thinks have influenced him the most. I would ask him what he thinks are the most important decisions of the Court in certain segments of time and why. I would also ask him about his judicial philosophy on the assignment of opinion writing. That is perhaps a better indicator of how he will confront problems 20 years hence than intricate questions about the Voting Rights Act.