"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Judge Rehnquist Is Dead

After 33 amazing years on the bench, in which he went from a lonely voice to a strong Chief Justice, William Rehnquist died last night. I've always wondered what Supreme Court justices, with the power they have wielded, think about as they die. I like to think Rehnquist was at peace with his responsibility to the gift/burden of authority he was given.

2 comments:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Hunter, if you have the time, I would be grateful if you would elaborate. I confess that I have not been watching Rehnquist carefully over the years.

It would interest me greatly to see how he voted on some of the major issues that are of special concern to conservatives.

Hunter Baker said...

Just to be brief about it, Jay, because time is dear, I can tell you that his court re-invigorated federalism from the absolute depths it hit in the wake of the New Deal reliance on the Interstate Commerce Clause. That is the key legacy and is where he and O'Connor often agreed.

He denied strict separation of church and state in favor of the more accommodationist institutional separation that would simply prevent the federal government from establishing a church or churches.

He consistently voted against the institutionalization of abortion as a near-absolute right. One that has virtually surpassed speech, religion, and the press, despite the fact that those form something of an originalist trinity.