Thursday, July 5, 2012

Conservative to a Tee: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist

His Voting Patterns on Select Criminal Procedure Issues

By Dana A. Vitarelli
Dana Vitarelli, Albany Law School class of 2012, did her undergraduate work in psychology at the State University of New York at Geneseo. In law school, she was the Research and Writing Editor and Business Manager for the Journal of Science & Technology and Chair of the Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Competition for the Moot Court Editorial Board.
This essay was prepared for the Judicial Process Seminar, Fall 2011.
This is Dana's 2nd contribution to the Center. (See The Interplay Between State and Federal Courts, April 9, 2012.) 

William Hubbs Rehnquist (“Rehnquist”) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 1, 1924. He grew up in a heavily conservative household, which likely influenced his later career on the Supreme Court. World War II began and Rehnquist did not have the opportunity to complete his education; he enlisted in the air force branch of the army as a weather observer where he served in North Africa. After the war, Rehnquist attended various schools including Stanford University earning two degrees in political science, Harvard University where he received his masters in government, and finally Stanford Law School in 1950 where he graduated at the top of his class.

Rehnquist first served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1972 and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States in 1986. In his early days on the Court, Rehnquist was fairly outspoken as one of the Court's lone dissenters despite the presence of three other Republican appointees on the Court.Rehnquist often argued against the expansion of federal powers and advocated a strong vision of state's rights. In his The Notion of a Living Constitution, Rehnquist stated that a judge in the Supreme Court should defer to the legislature—the popular will. He also stated that judicial review is anti-democratic because he believed that judges should not put their own moral values into their decisions; he believed it is not the role of the court to be remedying social problems.

While Rehnquist is known as a conservative on the Court, this paper will test his criminal law ideologies. Specifically, this paper will focus on Rehnquist’s views on Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure, Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy, Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel, and Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment cases while he sat as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1986 to 2005.*
* Citations to references in this introduction are available in the paper.
To read the entire paper, open HERE.