Statements and Speeches

On the Death of Chief Justice Rehnquist

Statement in the Congressional Record

Sep 07 2005

Mr. President, not far from where we are today, the body of our late Chief Justice has lain in repose, and a number of us were privileged to go there earlier today just to say goodbye and to thank him for his service to our country – 33 years. That is a long time, more than three decades that he has served us. His love for our country, his love for the law and the integrity of our Nation's judiciary system was only surpassed by his love for his family and for those with whom he worked.


During his time on the Court, he fostered, among other things, real congeniality among the Justices – something that is not easy to do in that forum or, frankly, in this one. In return, he was held in high esteem by his colleagues who had called him, among other things, “brilliant,” “principled,” “generous,” with “a good sense of humor,” something we can never have too much of.


He demonstrated great personal strength and courage in leading the Court and this country through difficult and contentious times, continuing his work in the face of ever-daunting health problems that would have set most of us on our backs and far out of the courtroom.


There are many judicial hallmarks of his time on the Court. Throughout his tenure on the Court, he staunchly supported the independence of the Federal judiciary and our overall governmental system of checks and balances. We will miss him, but we are grateful that he was here to serve us for as long as he has.