Skip to comments.Gentleman of the Court (Laurence Tribe's Rehnquist Eulogy)
Posted on 09/06/2005 9:54:02 PM PDT by neverdem
IN October 1971, the White House tapped Assistant Attorney General William H. Rehnquist to respond to my critique of someone at the top of its short list for one of the two vacancies created by the nearly simultaneous resignations of two justices. I found his tepid apologia underwhelming. Yet within two months, when Mr. Rehnquist took the Supreme Court seat once marked for the target of my critique, I began to see how foolish it would have been to measure him by his defense of a candidate about whom he probably felt lukewarm. While it may be too soon to assess the chief justice's enduring impact, it is not too soon to reflect on why so many who served with him as colleagues, worked for him as law clerks or appeared before him as advocates are already prepared to render a verdict of greatness and to tell the world how deeply his passing is mourned.
Seeing past the chief justice's sometimes abrupt manner in oral argument was eased for me by his willingness to engage me, then an unknown law professor in his mid-30's, in a public debate in 1978 on the role of an active judiciary in a pluralistic democracy, moderated by the legendary Judge Henry Friendly. Charmed by his disarming informality and candor during the debate and at the private dinner that followed, my wife and I emerged with fond feelings toward a man whose warmth and humor within the court were not always evident to strangers.
When I began arguing regularly before the Supreme Court two years later, I felt from the start that I was conversing with a brilliant colleague who always got right to the point. In more than 30 oral arguments over the past 25 years, I never saw him ask questions, as his...
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Y A W N !
Tribe must have had to medicate himself before writing that.
Sounds much more about Tribe than Rehnquist. Go figure.
What I really want to see is a knock-down drag out fight between Dershowitz and Tribe over their differing opinions of Rehnquist as a justice and as a human being.
I think they have a draw, and natural rights prevail.