Introduction: Symposium – William Rehnquist's Fourth Amendment

16 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2012 Last revised: 3 Jun 2013

See all articles by Thomas K. Clancy

Thomas K. Clancy

University of Mississippi School of Law

Date Written: August 7, 2012


William Rehnquist served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from September 26, 1986 to September 3, 2005. During that period, he wrote an astonishing number of majority opinions on the Fourth Amendment, totaling in all 25. The list includes many of the most important cases of that time. In addition, the Rehnquist Court issued numerous per curiam decisions and it is fair to say that Rehnquist had something to do with them, given that he dissented in none of those cases. Indeed, Justice “Per Curiam” wrote more majority opinions when Rehnquist was Chief Justice than has any of the current Justices of the Court (excepting only Justice Scalia). During his tenure as Chief Justice, Rehnquist also wrote four dissenting opinions but no concurring opinions. Rehnquist served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from January 7, 1972 to the date of his elevation as Chief Justice. During that earlier period, he wrote 23 majority opinions, five concurring opinions, and eleven dissenting opinions. In total, he wrote 68 opinions in his 33 years on the bench. In only a handful of those opinions did he side with the individual. Regardless of whether one agrees with his views, Chief Justice Rehnquist’s impact on Fourth Amendment analysis – and his legacy – is substantial and the symposium addresses that legacy.

Keywords: fourth amendment, William Rehnquist, Supreme Court

Suggested Citation

Clancy, Thomas K., Introduction: Symposium – William Rehnquist's Fourth Amendment (August 7, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Thomas K. Clancy (Contact Author)

University of Mississippi School of Law ( email )

Lamar Law Center
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
United States
662-832-5244 (Phone)

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