But even as Rehnquist's admirers prepare to praise him, his legacy is unsettled. After a respectful mourning period, his opinions and those of the Rehnquist Court are taking a beating, with even Republicans and conservative academics critiquing his record in ways that could pressure his successor and former law clerk, John Roberts Jr., to complete what he left undone.I'm not shocked that liberals would be critical of the Rehnquist Court. I understand the frustration from conservatives too. But let's look at things realistically. The Rehnquist Court was miles better than the Warren and Burger Courts. Rehnquist's Court also had a very slim conservative majority, so we were pretty lucky with what we got from them. I also think that it's possible that Chief Justice Roberts will continue the work of his former boss. As a Supreme Court litigator, Roberts knows how frustrating these big holes in Constitutional law can be. I think that he's looking to really get some work done and bring a little clarity to the legal situation.
Mauro also has this interesting information...
Meanwhile, new information has emerged about Rehnquist: His long-private 1948 master's thesis has been published, a former aide has confirmed that Rehnquist once planned to retire in 1991, and the originator of his early nickname, the "Lone Dissenter," has stepped forward.Wow, imagine if that happened. Who would George HW Bush have named Chief? The very thought both intrigues and scares the living crap out of me. Later in the article, it states that Rehnquist had no confidence that Bush could win re-election. He called that one.
Mauro has quotes from notable people like Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, Godfather of Property Rights Richard Epstein, Professor Douglas Kmiec, and others. I'm sure that we will be reading law review articles and hearing speeches about the Rehnquist Court for many years to come. I think Prof. Kmiec has the situation pegged nicely with this quote: "He could have spent his life as a lone ranger, or he could bring Tonto along with him, as he did." Rehnquist spent his first years on the Court frequently as the lone dissenter in many cases. Unfortunately, one vote dissents do not make the law. Rehnquist realized that he sometimes had to temper his views to get those four other votes he needed. That's the reality of the Court; the magic number is five. If he didn't get that number, Rehnquist would end up with Justice Stevens deciding what the law is, and that would be bad.