Sunday, September 04, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist Passed Away of Cancer

From the AP Wire:

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who oversaw the high court's conservative shift and presided over the impeachment trial of President Clinton, died Saturday evening. He was 80 years old and had spent 33 years on the Supreme Court.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his duties on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in announcing his death.

Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.

The death leaves Bush with his second court opening within four months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.

The last time there were simultaneous vacancies at the court was 1971, when Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan retired in September, about a week apart. Rehnquist, then a Justice Department lawyer, urged the Nixon administration to move fast in replacing them and wound up being appointed to Harlan's seat himself.

Possible replacements include Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and federal courts of appeals judges J. Michael Luttig, Edith Clement, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Michael McConnell, Emilio Garza, and James Harvie Wilkinson III. Others mentioned are former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, lawyer Miguel Estrada and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson.

More news as it comes in. My thoughts and prayers are with the Rehnquist family.

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