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