March 12, 2005

Rehnquist the Great?

Jeffrey Rosen makes the case for viewing William H. Rehnquist as one of the Supreme Court's greatest Chiefs in this article in The Atlantic. The gist of it is that Rehnquist has done a remarkably good job at melding his conservative policy preferences with a pragmatic approach to law making and building coalitions in the Court. While I have a host of problems with Rehnquist's behavior on the Court, I think it's clear that he's been a more powerful and successful Chief than his predecessor. As to how lasting that influence will be, that remains to be seen (and the decision in Raich could be particularly interesting in that regard).

The article is also interesting in that it discusses something that might perplex many movement conservatives. While in many ways Rehnquist is the most conservative and pro-government power justice currently serving on the Court (or who has served on the Court in the past several decades), at the same time he has voted more often with Justices O'Connor and Kennedy in recent years than with Justices Scalia and Thomas. While it's entirely possible that Rehnquist's replacement might be even more conservative than he is, it will be interesting to see if such a justice will be as effective at coalition building, and carefully and continuously pushing major changes in the interpretation of the law, as Rehnquist has done.

Posted by armand at March 12, 2005 04:35 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts

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