Judicial Birthday Watch sends warm birthday wishes to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (a.k.a. "the Chief" or "WHR"). As noted here (via How Appealing), last Friday, October 1, 2004, the Chief celebrated his 80th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. Chief Justice!
Article III Groupie realizes that she is a week late in extending birthday greetings to Chief Justice Rehnquist. To make up for her tardiness, A3G offers the Chief a gift: his birthday month horoscope!
Born on October 1, 1924, the Chief is a Libra. Review of this analysis shows that WHR is a typical Libra in many ways. Due to their diplomatic nature and their strong critical faculties, Libras often enjoy success as administrators and lawyers; as the Chief Justice of the United States, WHR finds himself at the pinnacle of the legal-administrative pyramid. His Libra nature is also reflected in the way he carries out his duties as Chief. For example, Libras "do not tolerate argument from anyone who challenges their opinions" and "detest conflict between people, so they do their best to cooperate and compromise with everyone around them." As a Libra, the Chief runs a tight ship when the justices meet in conference, keeping discussion and argument to a minimum.
Indeed, the Libra profile is an accurate description of WHR in even the smallest details. The Chief's chronic back pain, which sometimes causes him to stand up and stretch during Supreme Court oral arguments, is par for the Libra course: "Libra governs the lumbar region, lower back and kidneys. Its subjects must beware of weaknesses in the back, and lumbago, and they are susceptible to troubles in the kidneys and bladder." (Hmm... Could the Chief be wearing Depends underneath his robe?)
To obtain the Chief's birthday month horoscope, Article III Groupie visited her favorite astrology website, Astrology Zone, written by the highly regarded Susan Miller. This month's forecast for the Libra sign contains some interesting comments and predictions for the Chief, which A3G excerpts below in pertinent part.
The Chief's astrological chart for this month begins as follows (capitalized emphases in the original):
What a fabulous birthday month! With FIVE planets stacking up in your sign-Jupiter (outstanding luck), Mars (energy and special favor), Mercury (communication), the Sun (favor from authority) and the new moon solar eclipse (opportunity) - you will finally get things YOUR way. . . . If, at any time during this month you feel a little flustered with all the attention you are attracting, that would be understandable. But get used to it, dear Libra. This type of favor will be around for a LONG time.
That WHR will "get things [HIS] way" and attract tons of attention should come as no surprise. After all, he's the Chief Justice of the United States! But Chief Justice Rehnquist's rosy chart for October 2004 could also signify that OT 2004 will be a good one for the Chief, a Term in which he'll find himself in the majority on the most important cases. Perhaps he'll be able to hold on to the centrist justices, Justice Kennedy and Justice O'Connor, while coaxing the straying Justice Scalia back onto the conservative reservation.
With the presidential election only a few weeks away, Washington has been seized by speculation over how the composition of the Supreme Court will change in the next presidential administration. Everyone wants to know: Is retirement in the cards for Chief Justice Rehnquist? Is the Chief eager to hang up his robe? Although liberal Court-watchers might like to see Chief Justice Rehnquist depart as soon as humanly possible, even in the middle of the Term, the stars offer the Chief different counsel:
[I]n the coming thirteen months Jupiter will make you a little lazy. Jupiter tends to have such a calming effect, it practically puts you to sleep! After all you've endured over the past few years [e.g., the bitter controversy engendered by Bush v. Gore], you might say, "Oh, I don't care - a nap sounds good." But you can't do that, dear Libra - and it would be a shame if you did! Don't lose your will to keep working hard, and don't take ANYTHING for granted. You can see how easy it would be for that to happen. Stay grateful!
So the stars are apparently telling the Chief "to keep working hard" during this Term, which roughly spans "the coming thirteen months," and not to give in to his laziness (e.g., by writing opinions even shorter than his typically oracular pronouncements). But does WHR need to stay beyond the end of this Term? Chief Justice Rehnquist's horoscope offers the following, startlingly prescient comments relating to the timing of his departure from the Court:
It is clear by your chart that you won't have complete freedom of movement this month when it comes to career, and won't for a few more months. Saturn will leave this sticky position on July 16, 2005, and when it does you will be in prime position for a handsome career reward.
These comments make perfect sense. Given that the new president won't take office until January, WHR isn't going anywhere "for a few more months." But in or around July 2005--i.e., shortly after the end of OT 2004--the Chief will attain "freedom of movement" with respect to his career. Based on what the stars are saying, A3G predicts that Chief Justice Rehnquist will announce his retirement after OT 2004 concludes, to claim the "handsome career reward" of his full salary, as well as historical distinction as one of the longest-serving chief justices in the history of the Court.
But the Chief may not have completely smooth sailing between now and his retirement. The Chief's chart offers this warning:
Saturn, now in your tenth house of career, is about to get cranky, and that means your boss [the American people?] will continue to heap you with too much responsibility. It is clear you are working very hard. Sometimes Saturn's position in the tenth house brings on a political situation in the office, not of your making.
"A political situation in the office, not of your making"? Hmm, this sounds like an awful lot like Bush v. Gore! Could this fall bring with it a new round of Supreme Court litigation concerning a disputed presidential election? According to the planets, it's quite possible. (Also check out this post, "Is Colorado the new Florida?", over at Politics Blog.)
Finally, the stars have the following comments on Chief Justice Rehnquist's love life:
Romantically, the month's extraordinary buildup of planetary energy in Libra will put the spotlight squarely on you, giving you a sexy, perky magnetism that will quickly put others under your spell. Arrange your schedule so that you can be out and about a bit more than usual. This is no time to hide your light under a barrel!
What could these comments possibly mean for Chief Justice Rehnquist? Well, in order to predict the Chief's future, we must understand his past. Some ten years ago, around the spring of 1994, the Chief was romantically linked to Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall of the Ninth Circuit. Could it be time for the Chief to reignite his rumored romance?
Washingtonian magazine had the following to say about Chief Justice Rehnquist and Judge Hall back in 1994:
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who has been giving some thought to retirement from the Supreme Court, has a new love interest -- and some say a new bounce to his step.
Rehnquist, 69, is romantically involved with Cynthia Holcomb Hall, 65, a judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. When she's in town, she's been seen in the Supreme Court's guest seats.
The romance is said to be bad news for liberals. Since the death of his wife two years ago, Rehnquist hadn't been enjoying his job, and he was considering retirement. Now Hall is encouraging him to stay on the court, at least until the 1996 election. After that, his supporters say, he may leave only if a Republican is elected president.
The Rehnquist-Hall romance was noted in other publications as well, resulting in such groan-inducing headlines as "Legal Eagle Lovebirds," "Law and Ardor," and A3G's personal favorite, "Rehnquist Finds Circuit Judge Appealing." In June 1994, the Washington Post reported that "[l]egal circles have been buzzing about the couple for months," but noted that "a court source yesterday cautioned against jumping to conclusions."
Tony Mauro, living up to his UTR-bestowed title as "the Liz Smith of One First Street" (that's a compliment), had the dish on the couple's history and similar backgrounds. In a piece for the Legal Times, he wrote: "Both are widowed, both are Stanford Law School graduates, and they've known each other for some years through Judicial Conference meetings and the like. Rehnquist is 69; Hall is 65." Sounds to A3G like the perfect foundation for a November-November romance!
When asked about their relationship at the time, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Judge Hall both declined comment. But Judge Hall's statement was a bit more revealing than the Chief's: "I certainly would not comment on anything concerning my personal life, or his."
Well, well--very interesting! That's the most substantive "no comment" that A3G has ever heard, the "no comment" equivalent of "When did you stop beating your wife?" Judge Hall might as well have said, "I decline to comment on the hot-and-heavy romance that the Chief Justice and I are carrying on under our robes. And if you think you can get me to comment on the size of his rather impressive gavel, you are sorely mistaken!"
Despite the rumors, the Rehnquist-Hall romance never made it to the next level (in contrast to the that of Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King and her colleague Judge Thomas M. Reavley, who were married on August 22, 2004; hey, does anyone know where they are registered?). One can only wonder what led Chief Justice Rehnquist and Judge Hall not to pursue things further. Chief Justice Rehnquist is a Libra; Judge Hall, born on February 19, 1929, is a Pisces. In astrological terms, a Libra-Pisces romance is unconventional, but not out of the question. The stars offer these insights to a Libra like the Chief contemplating a relationship with a Pisces like Hall:
There are many ways this union could work, even though astrological textbooks might turn down their nose at it. Pisces is a creative and highly sensitive sign and would relate to your refined nature. . . . Of the two, you are the realist and better at finding practical solutions, and your lover will provide you with the inspiration and vision to do so. . . . Sexually, you will be touched by the depth of feeling you experience together, the care your Pisces takes in giving you pleasure, and the exquisite aura that will be wrapped around you. This is one lover to have and to hold. Give it a good try.
In the end, only WHR and Judge Hall will know what they felt for each other, deep in the hearts beating under those robes. But A3G can certainly speculate! (N.B. The indented paragraphs below are fictionalized.)
Spring 1994. OT 1993 is nearing its end, and Judge Hall has flown out to Washington to watch an oral argument at the Court--and to spend time with Chief Justice Rehnquist. After the argument, the two judges retire to his chambers to discuss their future. After a long conversation filled with pain and longing, they conclude that they cannot attempt a long-distance relationship, given the demands of their judicial offices. And so they must make an excruciatingly difficult choice between their relationship... and their robes.
The Chief is ready to cast off his robes for the sake of love; he proposes announcing his retirement at the end of the Term and joining Judge Hall in California. But the conservative Judge Hall, who wants the Chief to continue leading "the Rehnquist Revolution" at the Court (and bench-slapping her loopy leftist colleagues when they get out of line), selflessly places the needs of the nation ahead of her own.
"Bill," she says tearfully, "you know I love you. And you know I need you. But the American people need you too. If you step down now, Clinton will appoint some crazy liberal to take your place on the Court. Please, just hang in there--stay on the Court until after the 1996 election. I promise I'll wait for you."
As things turned out, the judicial lovers turned out to be star-crossed, leaving Judge Hall waiting for over a decade. First President Clinton won a second term in 1996, postponing the Chief's departure until 2000. Then came the disputed election of 2000, resolved by the Court in Bush v. Gore, which effectively forced the Chief to stay on until after the 2004 election, for the sake of appearances. (As Ron Klain observed in the Vanity Fair piece on Bush v. Gore, "The justices who ruled for President Bush gave themselves, in effect, a four-year sentence.")
Today, with the presidential election just weeks away, conservative circuit judges around the country are praying for a win by President Bush. Most of them want a Bush win so they can make it to the Supreme Court. But one of them wants a Republican victory for an entirely different reason: so the Chief Justice can hang up his uber-stylish robe for good, leave the pressures of One First Street behind, and return to the loving arms of a certain little old lady from Pasadena.
And so, if all goes well for President Bush, October 1, 2005, might be Chief Justice Rehnquist's happiest birthday in a very long time. Picture him sitting on the patio of a Pasadena mansion, on a lovely and warm California evening, after a wonderful candlelit birthday dinner. Standing in front of him is Judge Hall, wearing nothing but a black judicial robe encrusted with thousands of rhinestones. Judge Hall starts gently crooning, Marilyn-style, "Happy Birthday, Mr. Ex-Chief Justice, Happy Birthday to you!"
The man formerly known as the Chief Justice gets out of his seat, gingerly stretches his lower back, and takes the still-singing Judge Hall in his arms. Caught off guard, she starts giggling like a schoolgirl. He silences her--with a kiss...
Wondering what the stars have in store for her,