Reflections on Rehnquist

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People including President Bush, Supreme Court staff and ordinary Americans came to pay their respects to Chief Justice William Rehnquist Tuesday. We hear from some of those who have assembled to pay their last respects.


Among those paying respects today to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist were President Bush, sitting Supreme Court justices, court staff, former law clerks and ordinary Americans. Rehnquist's funeral will take place tomorrow followed by burial at Arlington National Cemetery. This morning long lines formed outside the Supreme Court. It was the first day of public viewing of Rehnquist's flag-draped casket. We spoke with several people about why they were there.

Ms. ARIANNA GRUMBINE: My name is Arianna Grumbine, A-R-I-A-N-N-A Grumbine, G-R-U-M-B as in baby-I-N-E. I'm 19 years old, and we're all part of a pro-life youth organization called Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. And we actually came out here--we had a prayer vigil this morning at 7:00 to honor Rehnquist and to honor his legacy.

Professor JIM TODD (University of Arizona): I'm Jim Todd. I'm a professor at the University of Arizona. The chief started coming out there for two-week sessions about 12 years ago, and I got him together with my students on about 12 different occasions, had him to dinner several times. And he and I disagree about a lot of issues; gay rights would be one of them. But I had enormous regard for him as an individual. He was a great delight to be with and wonderful with my students. I'm just here to pay tribute to him.

Mr. DOUGLAS GARRISON: My name's Douglas Garrison. I'm from Vienna, Virginia. And to be quite honest, I'm just here to get in the building. I've never been inside before and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Reverend ROB SCHENCK: Reverend Rob Schenck. I met the chief justice on a couple of occasions; had sat in on oral argument many times, especially on the big issues that are of concern to me and to the organization I represent: sanctity of human life, issues of religious expression in the public--in public places. So he's a loss to us, but we hope and pray that his successor will be cut from the same cord of wood.

Ms. HARLEY MOORE(ph): My name is Harley Moore. I'm from Chicago, Illinois. I'm here today to pay my respect to a man who served his country well. While my political beliefs aren't necessarily exactly in line with his, I have a great deal of respect for a man who issued opinions and worked on the court for so long in such an overarching and complete way that wasn't extreme and was very level-headed.

Mr. GUNNAR GRENSTER(ph): My name's Gunnar Grenster from Norway. This is a major moment in US politics and history, and since I was in town, I thought I should pay respect to the chief justice and observe what's going on.

Mr. DON AYER: My name's Don Ayer. I'm actually a former law clerk to the chief, and we were just here this morning for bringing in the casket. Those of us who were his clerks obviously knew him pretty well over the years. And I think everyone has just a tremendous sense of respect for him, both as a justice and as a person, as a very down-to-earth person. And so it's obviously a very sad day.

BLOCK: People at the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist will lie in repose until tomorrow.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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