Rehnquist Put Politics Before Law

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As a recent law school graduate, I was somewhat surprised by the tenor of “Rehnquist Rules on His Terms” (June 8). It lauds U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for sticking to his conservative ideals for more than half a century. However, in listing some of the more important moments in Rehnquist’s tenure, the article makes just a scant mention of his participation in the Florida election controversy of 2000. By joining the majority in the Bush vs. Gore decision, Rehnquist abandoned his conservative ideals -- judicial restraint, respect for states’ rights -- to help craft one of the shoddiest pieces of jurisprudence in American history. Why? The article itself provides the answer: Rehnquist wants his successor chosen by a Republican president.

Thus, at one of the most important occasions in American and Supreme Court history, Rehnquist traded in his values for political expediency. Far from never wavering from conservative ideals, Rehnquist wavered when it counted most. The conservative legacy Rehnquist worked so hard to build will be forever tarnished by his blatant act of political favoritism.

Matthew Henderson

Los Angeles


Rehnquist may be an amiable and competent court administrator, but close underneath is a cunning charlatan with an agenda out of step with the mainstream, even in the 1950s. He is a spiritual cousin to the likes of Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and has never yet found a white male businessman he couldn’t twist an opinion to support, reaching his nadir with George W. Bush. He based several poor opinions in the late ‘90s on his own unique interpretation of states’ rights but was enough of a refreshing hypocrite to completely abandon this to seat Bush, who he knew would replace him.


Let Rehnquist pass into extinction like the dinosaur he is. He has soiled the bench of the Supreme Court quite long enough. I am confident that future, decent jurists of both conservative and liberal bent will reverse Rehnquist and steer this wonderful country where it sorely needs to be -- having major legal issues decided by sizable court majorities based on fair, impartial review.

Mark Diniakos

Thousand Oaks