Teary-eyed Supreme Court justices and a long line of other Americans paid their last respects to William H. Rehnquist on Tuesday at the court where he served for 33 years. Among the pallbearers was his former clerk, John G. Roberts, the man chosen to succeed the nation's 16th chief justice.
Roberts and seven other pallbearers bore the flag-draped casket up some 40 steps of the high court to the Great Hall, where marble busts of all the former chief justices line the wall. Several of the justices wept as they stood around Rehnquist's casket, including Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Chief Justice Rehnquist's casket will remain in the Great Hall for public viewing today until noon. Funeral services (open to friends and family) will take place this afternoon at two o'clock, at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington.*
As one might expect, Article III Groupie has a few UTR Discovery Requests for her readers arising out of recent events. Here they are:
1. One UTR correspondent made some astute observations concerning the Rehnquist rites at One First Street yesterday, and posed the following query to A3G:
Justice Souter did not attend the ceremonies for Chief Justice Rehnquist at the Court yesterday, nor did he issue a statement about Chief Justice Rehnquist's death ("A statement from Justice David Souter is not expected, the court said."). I'm left to ask: What's the deal?
Very interesting, and rather surprising... Article 3 Groupie has no knowledge of Souter-Rehnquist hostility or tension. Certain personality clashes at One First Street are well-known -- e.g., Scalia v. O'Connor, O'Connor v. Kennedy, Souter v. Scalia -- but Rehnquist v. Souter is not among them.** A3G respectfully requests information from her readers concerning the relationship between Justice Souter and the late Chief Justice Rehnquist.
In the meantime, while we wait for some actual information, here's some rank speculation from A3G concerning what Chief Justice Rehnquist might have done to earn Justice Souter's ire:
(a) Chief Justice Rehnquist, an avid tennis player, told Justice Souter, a dedicated runner, that "running is stupid."***
(b) Chief Justice Rehnquist repeatedly called Justice Souter "sissy boy" during the justices' conference.
(c) The famously concise Chief once returned a draft of turgid Souter prose (what other kind is there?) with only a single comment, dismissively scrawled in red pen at the top of the first page: "This opinion is SO GAY!!!"
A digression: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy also did not attend the memorial ceremony at the Court yesterday. But at least AMK issued a statement praising the late Chief as "a warm, compassionate, decent man; a brilliant jurist; and a chief justice of superb and historic stature."
Perhaps Justice Kennedy was in Europe, maybe Austria? In this awesome article for the New Yorker, "Swing Shift: How Anthony Kennedy's passion for foreign law could change the Supreme Court," Jeffrey Toobin offers the following report:
Every summer for the past fifteen years, Kennedy and his wife, Mary, have rented an apartment in Salzburg. Kennedy speaks serviceable German, navigates the winding cobblestone streets with ease, and only this year acquired a coveted pass allowing him to park his car in the old part of town.
There are even more juicy tidbits in the rest of the article, a detailed profile of Justice Kennedy and his views on foreign law, based on extensive reporting by the brilliant Mr. Toobin (who got to hang out in Salzburg with the Justice and his wife, attending Mass and eating schnitzel with them). You should definitely check it out!
2. As noted in this exceedingly interesting article by David G. Savage for the Los Angeles Times, former Rehnquist clerks made up seven of the eight pallbearers who carried Chief Justice Rehnquist's casket into the Supreme Court's Great Hall yesterday (see picture at right, by Doug Mills (NYT); click on the image for a larger version). A UTR reader submits this request:
I would enjoy a posting about Chief Justice Rehnquist’s pallbearers. In addition to Judge Roberts, one pallbearer that I recognized was David Leitch (current General Counsel to Ford Motor Company, former Deputy White House Counsel, former Acting GC of Department of Homeland Security, former Chief Counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration, former partner of Judge Roberts at Hogan & Hartson, former Rehnquist clerk, etc.).
WOW -- Mr. Leitch's résumé is positively Robertsian in its firepower! And David Leitch, like John Roberts, is also a young god of the legal profession: he's only 44. Looking into her crystal ball, A3G sees a federal appeals court seat in this man's future...
Oh, sorry -- the credential-obsessed A3G got distracted by résumé lust! Back to the question at hand: Does anyone know who some of the other pallbearers were? If so, please email A3G.
3. Finally, and looking ahead a little bit, here's a question on everyone's mind: What about the robes? Does anyone have any thoughts on whether Chief Justice John Roberts would retain the four gold stripes on each sleeve that were added to the Chief Justice's robe by Rehnquist, circa 1995? (For those of you who aren't familiar with this story, it's available here: "In a bit of acknowledged whimsy, Chief Justice William Rehnquist decided to personalize his judicial robe with 4 gold braid stripes on each sleeve.... All the other Supreme Court justices wear the traditional unadorned black judicial robes. The inspiration for the gold stripes came from the costume worn by a character in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, "Iolanthe," first staged in London in 1882.")
A digression: A3G thinks it's a bit odd that Chief Justice Rehnquist took such a step, which might be viewed as self-important. Back when he was an Associate Justice, William Rehnquist viewed Chief Justice Burger's "pomposity and penchant for self-aggrandizement" with disdain -- and even encouraged his law clerks to make fun of Chief Justice Burger's grandiosity. For a full report on Chief Justice Rehnquist's views on his predecessor, check out this piece, yet another fascinating article by the Femme Fatale of One First Street.
Here are some points for and against Chief Justice Roberts keeping the gold braid stripes. On the one hand, the modest and unpretentious John Roberts might want to dispense with the pomp and blend in with his fellow justices, placing greater emphasis on the "equals" part of the Chief Justice's status as "first among equals." On the other hand, Chief Justice Roberts might want to retain the gold bars as a tribute to his predecessor and mentor. Removal of the stripes would constitute a repudiation of Rehnquist's sartorial legacy at the Court.
(What if John Roberts wants a distinctive Chief's Justice robe, but isn't keen on the gold bars? In that case, he should check out these suggestions for "Extreme Makeover: Chief Justice's Robe Edition.")
So, does anyone have any information concerning what John Roberts thinks of the Rehnquist-designed robe? If so, please drop A3G a line. Much thanks!
* Some of you might be wondering: Why is Chief Justice Rehnquist's funeral being held in a Catholic church? The explanation can be found in the AP article: "Rehnquist was Lutheran, but his funeral will be held at a Catholic Church. Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, said Rehnquist's family had requested use of the church, primarily because of space. She said church rules allow a Catholic church to be used for other Christian services if there is a need."
** Certain friendships at the Court are also well-known, such as the friendship between Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg. They attend the opera together, their families spend New Year's Eve together -- and they even ride elephants together! (No, that's not a euphemism for something dirty; click here for a great pic of AS and RBG riding an elephant together.)
Based on their divergent judicial philosophies, the closeness of Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg might be surprising to some. But it's not as surprising as it might at first seem. Consider the following:
1. AS and RBG have a shared background: they're both former D.C. Circuit judges and law professors, with an academic bent.
2. Even though they have different ideologies, they respect each others' intellects (and are widely regarded as being two of the smartest among the nine justices). Cf. the Kozinski-Reinhardt friendship ("Yes, we disagree with each other violently. But we're BFFs because we're the coolest kids on the playground -- the two smartest judges on the Ninth Circuit!").
3. Justice Scalia's real beef is with people who OUGHT to be conservative, but aren't (e.g., Kennedy, O'Connor, Souter). He's fine with Justice Ginsburg, perhaps on the theory that "she's supposed to be a liberal, and she is a liberal!"
*** For more on the Chief's tennis game, click here, to read Professor Richard W. Garnett's great Slate essay, "Tennis and Top Buttons: Remembering William H. Rehnquist" (via Wonkette).