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September 04, 2005

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I wonder if the short list remains the same.

Looking backwards, I'm afraid that the first word that occurs to me is: "racist."

After that I can acknowledge some good points. And then some more not so good points.

And lo, instant analysis. Short version: bad timing.

I liked the guy. Sense of humor and humility. A reverence for the institution, for the value of judges. Sue me.

He stayed way too long. I think it was hubris on his part.

Overheard on the internets:

"It's like we're stuck in an episode of West Wing."

Condolences to the Rehnquist family. He had a son and two daughters.

"It's like we're stuck in an episode of West Wing."

The evil West Wing?

(/Austin Powers.)

Brennan and Marshall seem to have been real and sincere friends/fans of his, Bob, so you're in good company. OTOH, while he'd come a ways on race since reportedly being the only clerk to oppose the holding of Brown, but plenty of people, especially those who work on criminal defendants' rights, would say: not close to far enough.

He is widely regarded as a very competent chief justice as far as administrative duties & keeping the court running smoothly--Burger was apparently quite lousy at this.

I don't actually have a very good handle on his jurisprudence overall; less than perhaps any other justice.

My hope for a replacement: Mary Ann Glendon. My fear: Alberto Gonzales or Edith Jones. My guess: Garza.

As far as specific cases, I'm most concerned about Rasul and Hamdi and their likely followups. These issues WILL be returning to the Supreme Court soon. Rasul is probably down to 5-4 if Roberts is confirmed, but as Rehnquist was in the minority this does not further endanger it. Hamdi could conceivably be down to 6-3, could still be at 8-1--the Senate needs to get answers on that.

"Brennan and Marshall seem to have been real and sincere friends/fans of his, Bob, so you're in good company. OTOH, while he'd come a ways on race since reportedly being the only clerk to oppose the holding of Brown, but plenty of people, especially those who work on criminal defendants' rights, would say: not close to far enough."

I care less and less about inside fans, as time goes by. Too many good people respect evil colleagues. I don't see too much evidence of it going the other way, perhaps because the evil ones have so much power that they don't even have to show respect anymore.

May his soul find the peace, understanding and forgiveness that many of his decisions denied the people.

He was an asshole racist who was in a position of power. We should be glad he's gone and worry about which evil conservative cretin Bush will replace him with.

What is interesting is that the retirement of O'Connor and the death of Rehnquist is that it will not change the balance of power on the Court on abortion at all. If we assume Roberts and Rehnquists' replacement will oppose abortion (which may be a big assumption) you still only have four votes to overturn Roe: Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and _____. Kennedy, Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg and Souter will all uphold the basic right.

Maybe it's outrage burnout but I really don't care about abortion. I care abut environmental laws and public lands. The most disructive thing the rightwing loonies can do is use the "takings" clause to define the exploitation of public reasources as a protected property right or to decide that public interest regulations on self-interested behavior is unfair takings. The oligarchs use the religious issues as their cover; get us all in a flap about abortion when their real agenda is far more nefarious.

can we have Pat Robertson arrested for murder?

can we have Pat Robertson arrested for murder?

Not unless Chavez suffers a mysterious cross-shaped "accident".

Jack Balkin on Judicial Greatness

"Whether William Rehnquist will eventually be regarded as a great Justice (and Chief Justice) will, in the long run, rest on whether he has been on the right side of the most important questions he fought over as judged by future generations."

Wow. As a layman, to the extent the law is a science, it is advanced by the cogency and power of arguments. A justice can be "wrong" on the issue, and mistaken in his argument, yet if his work clarifies and advances the controversy, stimulates and challenges his opponents, he is a man of respect. Or at least usefulness.

Even a Taney or Douglas served us well in defending or challenging accepted wisdom. Taney forced the nation to confront issues of federalism, property, and race; Douglas of non-enumerated rights, activism, realism.
To judge judges by whether they advanced our particular present agendas seems wildly mistaken.

Even the great O'Connor helped by showing us that many issues are complicated and confused and sometimes punts and fudge factors are appropriate remedies.

ot: remember that article on Abdullah Almalki I posted a few days ago? Turns out it was only a truncated version of the story. I've now read the full one, and it is very, very strong corroboration of my longtime guess that a lot of the "evidence" against Arar was El-Maati's and Almalki's confession in Syria.

He describes:
--Extremely severe torture, worse than Arar's, that led him to sign or confess to anything
--Being asked about Arar & twenty other Canadians on a list, about forty days before he was first imprisoned.
--Statements from the Syrian interrogators indicating a very close relationship with Western interrogators
--Most importantly: After Arar was detained in New York and before he was sent to Syria, Almalki was taken out of his cell for an interrogation about Arar.

From Wonkette:

I have a rehnquist joke for you - he's actually been dead for 4 days but fema just found him.

"Too many good people respect evil colleagues. I don't see too much evidence of it going the other way, perhaps because the evil ones have so much power that they don't even have to show respect anymore."

Perhaps it is that your definition of evil doesn't match that of those you think you respect.

This apercu from the NYTimes

Noting that she has made her retirement contingent on the confirmation of a successor, she said she had not yet decided what she might do if the first Monday in October dawns and her seat has not been filled. It would be, she said, a "surprising dilemma."

Certainly a way to softpedal would be to ask O'Connor to be Chief Justice, but I have to think that the admin would not be able to pass up having the direct gratitude of two Justices. Might O'Connor take it upon herself?

Bush has just nominated Roberts as Chief Justice.

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