Chief Justice William Rehnquist Funeral

Chief Justice William Rehnquist was warmly remembered at funeral services this morning.

Bush, O’Connor, Family Remember Rehnquist (AP)

Photo: The casket of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is carried into the Supreme Court building in Washington by his former court law clerks, including Judge John Roberts (second from front on right), the man nominated by President Bush to replace Rehnquist as Chief Justice, September 6, 2005. Rehnquist's body will lie in state in the Court until his September 7 funeral. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) President Bush led the nation in a final tribute to William H. Rehnquist on Wednesday, remembering the 16th chief justice as the Supreme Court’s steady presence and a man of lifetime integrity. The president told hundreds assembled at Rehnquist’s private funeral — family, former clerks, lawmakers and Cabinet members — that the justice was a kind soul who accomplished much in a life that included 33 years on the high court. “We remember the integrity and the sense of duty that he brought to every task before him,” Bush told the audience at historic St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Rehnquist was a steady, guiding presence on the court, Bush said. Despite battling thyroid cancer, Rehnquist managed to attend Bush’s second inauguration in January and administer the oath of office to the president — a gesture Bush recalled with appreciation.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor fondly remembered a bright, witty and persuasive Rehnquist, a man she met at Stanford Law School more than half a century ago. “He was clearly the brightest student in our class,” she said, and she spoke respectfully of his ability on the high court. “He never twisted arms to get votes,” she said, but relied on the power of his arguments.

Family members portrayed Rehnquist as a man who balanced career and family. “No one smelled more roses than my dad,” said James Rehnquist.

Burial was set for Arlington National Cemetery in a grave not far from where several other justices are interred.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, in a welcome to those assembled in the Roman Catholic church, praised Rehnquist as a “loving father and husband, an outstanding legal scholar, a tireless champion of life and a true lover of the law: in every sense, a great American.”


Supreme Court justices (From bottom right to top left) John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg descend the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., September 7, 2005. The justices waited at a hearse at the bottom of the steps for the casket of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Judge John Roberts (L), who was recently nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (R) after she announced her retirement from the court, passes O'Connor as he heads down the steps of the Supreme Court to carry the casket of Chief Justice William Rehnquist in Washington, September 6, 2005. Roberts' confirmation hearing will begin on Monday, Senate leaders said, with Democrats vowing to take as long as needed to question the 50-year-old conservative who could lead the Supreme Court for decades. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.