William Rehnquist (October 1, 1924 - September 3, 2005)

William RehnquistWilliam Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and a political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the Chief Justice of the United States. Considered a conservative, Rehnquist favored a federalism under which the states meaningfully exercised governmental power. Under this view of federalism, the Supreme Court of the United States, for the first time since the 1930s, struck down an Act of Congress as exceeding federal power under the Commerce Clause.

Rehnquist presided as Chief Justice for nearly 19 years, making him the fourth-longest-serving Chief Justice after John Marshall, Roger Taney, and Melville Fuller, and the longest-serving Chief Justice who had previously served as an Associate Justice. The last 11 years of Rehnquist's term as Chief Justice (1994-2005) marked the second-longest tenure of one roster of the Supreme Court.

In 1999, Rehnquist became the second Chief Justice (after Salmon P. Chase) to preside over a presidential impeachment trial, during the proceedings against President Bill Clinton. In 2000, Rehnquist wrote a concurring opinion in Bush v. Gore, the case that effectively ended the presidential election controversy in Florida. He concurred with four other justices in that case that the Equal Protection Clause barred a "standardless" manual recount of the votes as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

In his capacity as Chief Justice, Rehnquist administered the Oath of Office to three Presidents of the United States - George H.W. Bush in 1989, Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005.¹

William Rehnquist Quotes

"No amount of repetition of historical errors in judicial opinions can make the errors true. The "wall of separation between church and State" is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."
"If you could say of any one individual that the court as an institution is the length and shadow of that individual, surely it would be John Marshall."

"It is always possible for the court to overreach its proper bounds and perhaps declare a lot of laws unconstitutional and frustrate the will of the majority in a way that it ought not be frustrated."

"A father's interest in having a child--perhaps his only child--may be unmatched by any other interest in his life. It is truly surprising that the state must assign a greater value to a mother's decision to cut off a potential human life by abortion than to a father's decision to let it mature into a live child."

"Somewhere out there, beyond the walls of the courthouse, run currents and tides of public opinion which lap at the courtroom door."

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