- NAME: William Rehnquist
- OCCUPATION: Supreme Court Justice
- BIRTH DATE: October 01, 1924
- DEATH DATE: September 03, 2005
- EDUCATION: Kenyon College, Stanford University, Harvard University, Stanford Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- PLACE OF DEATH: Arlington, Virginia
- Full Name: William Hubbs Rehnquist
- AKA: William Rehnquist
Best Known For
William Rehnquist was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon in 1971. He was elevated to the post of chief justice by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. He remained chief justice until his death in 2005.
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After 1989, when a "new right" majority had been established by President Reagan, Rehnquist framed a series of conservative rulings on abortion, affirmative action and capital punishment.
During his tenure as Chief Justice,
Rehnquist scored a victory against the federal government in the 1995 decision in the United States v. Lopez case. The court ruled a federal law about carrying a gun in a school zone unconstitutional. Rehnquist made headlines a few years later as he served as the presiding judge over the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. In 2000, he was one of the supporters of the Supreme Court decision that ended the fight to recount contested votes in Florida in the presidential election in the Bush v. Gore case. Although he was expected to push the Supreme Court in a more conservative direction during his tenure, the Rehnquist Court specifically declined to overrule Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona.
On October 26, 2004, Rehnquist announced that he had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He administered the oath of office to President George W. Bush at his second inauguration in January 2005, but the illness was apparently taking its took on the chief justice. He was largely absent from the bench, but refused to resign. Rehnquist remained in office until his death on September 3, 2005. He was survived by his three children, James, Janet and Nancy. His wife Nan died in 1991.
A lifelong Lutheran, Rehnquist's funeral was attended by many politicians and judical officials. Chief Justice John Roberts, a former Rehnquist clerk and Rehnquist's replacement on the court, served as one of the pallbearers. Sandra Day O'Connor and President George W. Bush were among the speakers at the service. Bush remarked that "In every chapter of his life, William Rehnquist stood apart for his powerful intellect and clear convictions."
After 33 years on the Supreme Court, Rehnquist left his mark on the country's legal system. He was a man on mission during his time as an associate justice and as the chief justice to uphold his decidedly conservative views. Longtime critic of Rehnquist, lawyer Alan Dershowitz described the late justice as "a man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens," according to the Huffington Post website. John A. Jenkins, author of The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist, expressed a different take on Rehnquist's career. "Whatever you think of Rehnquist the man, you have to give him credit for sticking to an agenda, sticking to his guns and standing up for what he very passionately believed," Jenkins told CNN.
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The Supreme Court has presided over landmark cases that have changed the history of the United States. At times, the judges themselves have been the history makers, as in the case of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court; and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Here’s a look at the famous judges who have served on the United States' highest court.
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