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Rehnquist lies in
repose at high court after Roberts helps carry casket

Rehnquist lies in
repose at high court after Roberts helps carry casket

Teary-eyed Supreme Court justices and a long line of other Americans paid their last respects Tuesday to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist at the nation's top court, where he served for 33 years. Among the pallbearers was his former clerk John Roberts, the man nominated by President Bush to succeed him. Roberts and seven other pallbearers bore the flag-draped casket up some 40 steps of the high court to the Great Hall, where marble busts of all the former chief justices line the wall. Several of the justices wept as they stood around Rehnquist's casket, including Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Rehnquist, 80, died Saturday after a long battle with thyroid cancer. President Bush initially named Roberts to replace O'Connor, who announced in July that she would step down. Bush said Monday he would nominate Roberts to be chief justice instead. Rehnquist, whose brand of conservatism pushed the court to the right, was involved in two extraordinary interventions in the executive branch--the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton and the settlement of the 2000 election in Bush's favor. He oversaw a court that dealt with the separation of church and state, the rights of states, affirmative action, abortion, and gay rights. Washington reflected the loss of a Supreme Court justice with flags at half-staff. Roberts's confirmation hearings, which had been scheduled to begin Tuesday in the Senate, were delayed until next Monday. "We offer our condolences to the family of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and honor his service to the country on our nation's highest court," said Patrick Guerriero, president of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "We will continue to evaluate the nomination of Judge John Roberts, whom the president has now selected to become chief justice. With another vacancy on the court, we urge President Bush to unite the country by picking a fair-minded jurist who will respect the Constitution and is capable of gaining bipartisan support and quick confirmation." (AP)

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