Chief Justice Rehnquist dies

Sept. 4, 2005, midnight | By Merlyn Deng | 16 years, 1 month ago

Supreme Court left with another vacancy

This is not original reporting. All Information has been compiled from The New York Times article "Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies at 80" by Linda Greenhouse and The Washington Post article "Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Dies" by Charles Lane. Silver Chips Online posts these news summaries to provide readers with a forum for discussion.

William Hubbs Rehnquist, who had been the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly two decades, passed away last night in his Arlington home after a yearlong bout with thyroid cancer. He was 80.

His death was preceded by "a precipitous decline in his health in the last couple days," according to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

Although Rehnquist had been battling thyroid cancer since last October, he managed to finish the court's term in June and denied any intentions to retire.

Rehnquist's death opens up a second vacancy in the Supreme Court, following the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor this past July. Currently, the Senate is preparing to begin confirmation hearings for John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee to replace O'Connor.

Although President Bush and the Senate were aware of Rehnquist's fragile condition, his death is likely to cause political unrest throughout the government. Even if Roberts is confirmed before the court assembles on October 3, the Supreme Court will be operating with only eight justices for part of the term.

The only other instance in U.S. history when there were two vacancies in the Supreme Court was in 1972; this was when President Richard M. Nixon nominated Rehnquist to fill one of the positions.

After his confirmation, Rehnquist, one of the only conservatives on the court bench, was faced with a left-wing majority. That minority, however, later changed into a five-person majority. In 1986, President Ronald Regan promoted Rehnquist to the post of chief justice.

Following an important era of change under Chief Justice Earl Warren's court, the Rehnquist court left a lasting impression on America. For 33 years, Rehnquist fought for states' rights, the importance of religion in public life and prohibition for abortion.

Merlyn Deng. Merlyn (Mer - LEEN) has an unhealthy fixation on Silver Chips Online, the Silver Chips Manifesto, red pens and serial commas. When not editing stories and racking her brain for SCO and its readers, she may be found haunting Blair's hallways or downtown Silver Spring. … More »

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