Breaking News: William Rehnquist is Dead

Chief Justice William Rehnquist dies
Ailing justice served on Supreme Court for 33 years. He was was 80.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington.

“The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days,” she said.

What does this mean for Democrats as the Roberts nomination hearings begin next week? Early speculation from AP News is it “sets up what’s expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.” Then there’s the speculation of who will become Chief Justice…

The president could elevate to chief justice one of the court’s conservatives, such as Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, but it’s more likely he will choose someone from outside the court.

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 here from AP News.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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20 Responses to Breaking News: William Rehnquist is Dead

  1. Nick says:

    Our sympathies are with the Rehnquist family.

  2. Teresa says:

    My God. We are in the hands of fate.

  3. Nick

    Yes, sympathies are with his family.


    May the Fates be good to us. We are in a mess.

  4. Nick says:

    On a political note (which I know folks will be asking) Rehnquist’s passing does NOT signal a further shift to the right on the Supreme Court. Rehnquist was already VERY conservative, and even if Bush appoints someone who is very right-wing, he will simply be replacing one right-winger with another.
    More to the point, if your concerned about Roe vs. Wade being overturned, don’t be (I’m not, though in fairness abortion has never been one of my big issues). When the Supreme Court ruled against overturning Roe vs. Wade in 1992 it was by a 5 to 4 vote. Clinton’s two nominees were pro-choice, making it a pro-Roe Court by 7-2. Assuming Roberts is pro-life and will replace pro-Roe O’Connor, and a pro-lifer replaces pro-lifer Rehnquist, it will still be a pro-Roe Court by a 6-3 margin.
    Bottom line: Even on the 5-4 decisions, the death of Rehnquist doesn’t change those numbers. The retirement of O’Connor might bring some changes when it comes to cases that were decided by 5-4 margins. Just trying to head off some panic.

  5. Nick

    I think the panic goes beyond Roe v Wade and abortion. Roberts record on civil rights is horrendous and we’ve seen a huge lesson is race and class divide here in the US in the past few days.

  6. I’d assume Bush will nominate Roberts for Chief Justice. I think that had been the plan originally since everyone thought he’d be first but then O’Connor surprised everyone with her retirement.

  7. BTW, I noticed this nugget Carol posted on DCP…

    From Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s website – a press release:
    Levee repairs staged for Bush’s visit


    “But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast — black and white, rich and poor, young and old — deserve far better from their national government.

  8. Dave

    That would be nuts… Roberts is so inexperienced. Geez I hope you are wrong. Hopefully we will hear from Uncle Teddy tomorrow. I’m going to email his office now.

  9. Nick says:


    I agree the panic goes beyond abortion (as it should). I also agree that Roberts has a terrible civil rights record. I was only trying to make sure progressives kept their eye on the real ball (Roberts) and not think that because there are now two Supreme Court vacancies that the Supreme Court was about to be overrun by Robert Bork clones. To replace a conservative with another conservative may be a time for regret that Kerry didn’t win, but it’s not a cause for alarm. Replacing O’Connor with someone like Roberts? That could cause folks some understandable trepidation.

  10. Pamela,

    I assumed that was the plan. Roberts will be a guaranteed solid conservative that they’ll be able to get confirmed much easier than anyone else that conservative, because he won’t appear extreme to the public and because he is young. That’s what they want. He’d be appointing a solid conservative chief justice who’ll have 30 years to make his mark leading his court.

    The federalist society has been waiting for this moment for years.

  11. Dave

    Well… We need to fight like hell! Damn it! Enough of theis NeoCon bullshit! I hope the Repubs that have been speaking out in the past few days don’t lose their friggin backbones and can honestly look at what a mess they have gotten this country into. The Katrina mess ain’t over yet…

    I just watched the FAUX piece with Geraldo over at Crooks and Liars. Good gosh, I remember that guy when he also stood up like he did last night.

  12. florida dem says:

    Not sure if you guys heard about rapper Kanye West’s comments during NBC’s Katrina telethon Friday nite. Anyway, his comment that “Shrub doesn’t care about black people” has already been made into a tee-shirt and is being sold on ebay. Too funny! I think I’ll get two. Check it out:

  13. Indie Liberal says:

    Good deal florida dem! 🙂

  14. Indie Liberal says:

    May the Fates be good to us. We are in a mess.

    I agree. I wish people would stop thinking about 2008 and worry about 2006. I don’t know how we are going to get through this year, let alone the next three.

  15. Ginny in CO says:

    Indie Liberal,

    Hurricane season goes until October – and this year has 2-3 major ones predicted.

    So we have Cindy Sheehan, Katrina and Justice all showing a desperate need for better government. The ’06 elections are now 63 weeks and 3 days away.

    The 9/05 march on Washington is one way some of us could work on this mess.
    How many blogs and bloggers can we get to start upping the numbers?

  16. Ginny in CO says:


    Something else from Gov Bianco’s web site 🙂 From a noon (9/3) press meeting:

    “I want to introduce you to James Lee Witt. Mr. Witt ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency for eight years from 1993 to 2001. He has more than 25 years of disaster management experience.

    I have asked Mr. Witt to advise and assist me and Gen. Landreneau on the recovery effort.

    As FEMA director, Mr. Witt turned was credited with turning that agency around.

    His leadership is proven, his experience is extensive and he is an asset to this recovery effort.”

    Hmm, ‘spose Clinton’s FEMA Director can turn this around?

  17. Ginny

    I’m working on something rught now about Gov Blanco and some claims from the Bushies that WaPo printed.

  18. Teresa says:

    Speaking of justice and criminals….beware of language:

  19. Ron Chusid says:

    The WiFi here has not been working since late Friday, so I resorted to dial up (which is also on the slow side, even for dial up).

    I think that the main significance of Rehnquist’s death is that having too vacancies may change expectations on Bush. People who were accepting Roberts might see it as more reasonable to expect Bush to pick a conservative and a moderate. if Bush picks two conservatives, the public will be more accepting of a Democratic filibuster.

  20. Suzanne D. says:

    Jesus…The worst president in the history of the United States gets to install not one, but two, justices to the Supreme Court. This is the THIRD DISASTER since Bush took over this country in a coup d’ETAT in 2000.