Rehnquist

Rehnquist

[ren-kwist]
Rehnquist, William Hubbs, 1924-2005, American public official, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1986-2005), b. Milwaukee, Wis., as William Donald Rehnquist. After receiving his law degree from Stanford Univ. in 1952, he served (1952-53) as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. The following year he went to Phoenix, where he practiced law and became involved in conservative Republican politics. He was (1968-71) an assistant U.S. attorney general, heading the office of legal counsel in the Dept. of Justice before being named (1971) an associate justice of the Supreme Court by President Nixon. Generally regarded as one of the more conservative members of the late 20th cent. Supreme Court, Rehnquist became known as an advocate of law and order, writing several opinions reversing the liberal trend of the Earl Warren court in criminal cases. He was named chief justice in 1986 by President Reagan, succeeding Warren Burger. The Rehnquist court was generally conservative, but the conservatism of the chief justice and the more ideological Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas was tempered beginning in the late 1990s by the emergence of a judicially restrained bloc of justices including Sandra Day O'Connor, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

(born Oct. 1, 1924, Milwaukee, Wis., U.S.—died Sept. 3, 2005, Arlington, Va.) U.S. jurist who served as chief justice of the United States (1986–2005). He received his law degree from Stanford University and served as clerk to Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson. He later practiced law in Phoenix, Ariz. (1953–69), where he became active in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. At the U.S. Justice Department (1969–71), he opposed civil rights legislation and advocated greatly enlarged police powers. He was nominated for the Supreme Court by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1972. During the 1970s and into the '80s, Rehnquist formed the anchor of the court's conservative minority bloc. His polished legal opinions and consistently conservative stance on almost all legal issues led Pres. Ronald Reagan to appoint him chief justice in 1986. Rehnquist dramatically reduced the court's caseload and improved its efficiency. With the support of other conservatives, he led the court in curbing the ability of Congress to expand federal authority and in curtailing affirmative action programs. He presided over the U.S. Senate during the impeachment trial of Pres. Bill Clinton (1999).

Learn more about Rehnquist, William H(ubbs) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Oct. 1, 1924, Milwaukee, Wis., U.S.—died Sept. 3, 2005, Arlington, Va.) U.S. jurist who served as chief justice of the United States (1986–2005). He received his law degree from Stanford University and served as clerk to Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson. He later practiced law in Phoenix, Ariz. (1953–69), where he became active in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. At the U.S. Justice Department (1969–71), he opposed civil rights legislation and advocated greatly enlarged police powers. He was nominated for the Supreme Court by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1972. During the 1970s and into the '80s, Rehnquist formed the anchor of the court's conservative minority bloc. His polished legal opinions and consistently conservative stance on almost all legal issues led Pres. Ronald Reagan to appoint him chief justice in 1986. Rehnquist dramatically reduced the court's caseload and improved its efficiency. With the support of other conservatives, he led the court in curbing the ability of Congress to expand federal authority and in curtailing affirmative action programs. He presided over the U.S. Senate during the impeachment trial of Pres. Bill Clinton (1999).

Learn more about Rehnquist, William H(ubbs) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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