william rehnquist Quotes

William Rehnquist Quotes

Birth Date: 1924-10-01 (Wednesday, October 1st, 1924)

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Quotes

    • Pregnancy is of course confined to women, but it is in other ways significantly different from the typical covered disease or disability.
    • This result [:] will daily stand as a veritable sword of Damocles over every succeeding president and his advisers.
    • The Constitution requires that Congress treat similarly situated persons similarly, not that it engage in gestures of superficial equality.
    • The Supreme Court is an institution far more dominated by centrifugal forces, pushing toward individuality and independence, than it is by centripetal forces pulling for hierarchical ordering and institutional unity.
    • No amount of repetition of historical errors in judicial opinions can make the errors true. The 'wall of separation between church and State' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.
    • The considered professional judgment of the Air Force is that the traditional outfitting of personnel in standardized uniforms encourages the subordination of personal preferences and identities in favor of the overall group mission.
    • Somewhere 'out there,' beyond the walls of the courthouse, run currents and tides of public opinion which lap at the courtroom door.
    • [Jury selection] is best based upon seat-of-the-pants instincts, which are undoubtedly crudely stereotypical and may in many cases be hopelessly mistaken.
    • An oft-heard description of the Supreme Court is that it is the ultimate protector in our society of the liberties of the individual. This phrase describes an important role of the Supreme Court, but by ignoring other equally important functions of the Court, it has a potential for mischief. It is a fairly short leap from this language to a feeling that the US Constitution is somehow 'vindicated' every time a claim of individual right against government is upheld, and is not vindicated whenever such a claim is not upheld. But this, of course, cannot be the case. The role of the Supreme Court is to uphold those claims of individual liberty that it finds are well-founded in the Constitution, and to reject other claims against the government that it concludes are not well-founded. Its role is no more to exclusively uphold the claims of the individual than it is to exclusively uphold the claims of the government: It must hold the constitutional balance true between these claims.
    • When you are young and impecunious, society conditions you to exchange time for money, and this is quite as it should be. Very few people are hurt by having to work for a living. But as you become more affluent, it somehow is very, very difficult to reverse that process and begin trading money for time.
    • I think Alexander Hamilton has received a little bit of short shrift from history, and I think Jefferson has been treated a little bit too generously. I admire them both, but I admire them both about equally.
    • If you could say of any one individual that the court as an institution is the length and shadow of that individual, surely it would be John Marshall.
    • Perhaps you should say there should be mandatory retirement even of members of the court, members of the federal judiciary. I'm sure there can be questions about whether one does as good work when you get into your-you know, I'm 67.
    • The court has built a great deal of prestige, and I think is generally quite well thought of as a public institution in the country. It is always possible for the court to overreach its proper bounds and perhaps declare a lot of laws unconstitutional and frustrate the will of the majority in a way that it ought not be frustrated. In that sense, it poses a danger, but not the same sort of perhaps very active danger that a run-away Congress or runaway executive would.
    • [On writing:] Well, it's just a sense of personal satisfaction. Just like taking a good photograph or painting a picture or playing a good golf game or something, it's the thing in itself that justifies it.
    • Actually, the Swedish genealogists were so good that I found out more than I wanted to about my Swedish ancestors: one of them in the 17th century was executed for having embezzled funds from an estate for which he was the steward.
    • As for the name Rehnquist, I am quite uncertain as to its origin. Under the Swedish patronymic system of naming, my grandfather and his brothers would have been named Anderson, since Anders was the name of their father. 'Quist' in Swedish means branch, I am told. For example, 'Lindquist' means lime branch or linden branch, and Palmquist means palm branch. The best I can come up with is that the 'rehn' in my name refers to a small village near the farm on which my grandfather grew up.
    • It has been said that Sweden's loss has been America's gain, and I think this is true. Swedish immigrants and their descendents have contributed a great deal to America and it is worthwhile to remember our Swedish heritage.
    • A judge who is a 'strict constructionist' in constitutional matters will generally not be favorably inclined toward claims of either criminal defendants or civil rights plaintiffs-the latter two groups having been the principal beneficiaries of the Supreme Court's 'broad constructionist' reading of the Constitution.
    • Inadequate compensation seriously compromises the judicial independence fostered by life tenure. That low salaries might force judges to return to the private sector rather than stay on the bench risks affecting judicial performance. . . Every time an experienced judge leaves the bench, the nation suffers temporary loss in judicial productivity. Diminishing judicial salaries affects not only those who have become judges but also the pool of those willing to be considered for a position on the federal bench.
    • Our judges will not continue to represent the diverse face of America if only the well-to-do or the mediocre are willing to become judges.
    • The framers of our Constitution came up with two major contributions to the art of government. The first was the idea of an executive not dependent on the political support of the legislature. The second was the idea of the judiciary independent of the executive and legislative branches.
    • A public library does not acquire Internet terminals in order to create a public forum for Web publishers to express themselves, any more than it collects books in order to provide a public forum for the authors of books to speak.
    • [T]he Constitution does not guarantee the right to acquire information at a public library without any risk of embarrassment.
    • To the extent that libraries wish to offer unfiltered access, they are free to do so without federal assistance.
    • I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement... I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits.
    • Well, I think it's a very good job. One of the most appealing things about it is that... it enables you to participate in some way and to some extent in the way the country is governed but you're able to maintain a private life as well.
    • [I am mystified at why] the highest court of the nation must behave like a bunch of old women every time they encounter the death penalty.
    • [It's] about time the Court faced the fact that the white people of the South don't like the colored people.
    • The Equal Rights Amendment would 'turn holy wedlock into holy deadlock'.
    • william rehnquist

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William Rehnquist
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