William H. Rehnquist: A Life Lived Greatly, and Well
Richard W. Garnett
Notre Dame Law School
Yale Law Journal, Vol. 115, 2006
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-11
Chief Justice Rehnquist leaves behind a formidable and important legacy in constitutional law. His work on the Court was animated and guided by the view that We the People, through our Constitution, have authorized our federal courts, legislators, and administrators to do many things - but not everything. Because the Nation's powers are few and defined, Congress may not pursue every good idea or smart policy, nor should courts invalidate every foolish or immoral one.
However, for those of us who knew, worked with, learned from, and cared about William Rehnquist, it is his unassuming manner, the care he took to put people at ease, and his evident desire to serve as a teacher and mentor, as well as judge and employer, that are as salient in our memories of him as, say, his re-invigoration of the first principles of our federalism.
For more than three decades, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist served well the country and the Constitution. Put simply, and in Oliver Wendell Holmes's powerful words, "he live[d] greatly in the law". To his credit, though, Rehnquist's ambition was not so much to be great, but to live well.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: Rehnquist, Supreme Court, federalism, judicial restraint, constitutional law
JEL Classification: K10, K19
Date posted: June 20, 2006