Rehnquist & the Justice League of America Who are the contenders to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist when he steps down from the Supreme Court? NPR's Ken Rudin tackles the question.
NPR logo Rehnquist & the Justice League of America

Rehnquist & the Justice League of America

The only president who also served as chief justice. hide caption

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Are Dan and Phil Crane the only congressional brothers to be defeated for re-election? hide caption

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Thirty-eight years ago today, the Senate censured Sen. Tom Dodd of Connecticut. hide caption

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Q: Whom will President Bush name to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist? I've heard a lot of talk that it might be Justice Antonin Scalia. Do most chief justices begin as associate justices? -- Al Rosenberg, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: Everyone seems to have the same list of those who might succeed Rehnquist, assuming he retires at the end of the court's term. (He is suffering from thyroid cancer.) In addition to Scalia, the list includes J. Harvie Wilkinson and Michael Luttig, both of the 4th Circuit Court; John Roberts of the D.C. Circuit; and Emilio Garza of the 5th Circuit. Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, has gotten his share of mentions. As for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, he may one day wind up on the court, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

If Bush names Scalia (or Clarence Thomas or anyone else currently on the court), he will repeat the process of the last chief justice vacancy, in 1986, when Associate Justice Rehnquist replaced the retiring Warren Burger. But when Earl Warren stepped down in 1969, Burger was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.

Some historical facts: Only three associate justices were directly elevated to chief justice: Rehnquist, Harlan Stone (1941) and Edward White (1910). Two other chief justices -- John Rutledge (1795) and Charles Evans Hughes (1930) -- also served as associate justices, but both were appointed to the top job after they'd left the court.

One chief justice was a former U.S. president: William Howard Taft, in 1921. Two were serving in political office when selected: California Gov. Earl Warren (1953) and Connecticut Sen. Oliver Ellsworth (1796). And of the previous 15 chief justices, eight died in office. Here is a complete list of those who served as chief justice and their position at the time:

John Jay (1789, named by Washington)
Position at the Time: Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Service Ended: 1795, resigned to become governor of New York

John Rutledge (1795, named by Washington as a recess appointment)
Position at the Time: Chief Justice, South Carolina Supreme Court
Service Ended: 1795, recess appointment only (Senate rejected nomination)

Oliver Ellsworth (1796, named by Washington)
Position at the Time: U.S. Senator from Connecticut
Service Ended: 1800, resigned for health reasons

John Marshall (1801, named by Adams)
Position at the Time: Secretary of State
Service Ended: 1835, died in office

Roger Taney (1836, named by Jackson)
Position at the Time: Had been secretary of the treasury until Senate rejected his nomination
Service Ended: 1864, died in office

Salmon Chase (1864, named by Lincoln)
Position at the Time: Secretary of the Treasury
Service Ended: 1873, died in office

Morrison Waite (1874, named by Grant)
Position at the Time: President, Ohio constitutional convention
Service Ended: 1888, died in office

Melville Fuller (1888, named by Cleveland)
Position at the Time: Chicago attorney
Service Ended: 1910, died in office

Edward White (1910, named by Taft)
Position at the Time: Associate Justice (named by Cleveland 1894)
Service Ended: 1921, died in office

William H. Taft (1921, named by Harding)
Position at the Time: Former chair of the National War Labor Board (also former president of the U.S.)
Service Ended: 1930, retired (died a month later)

Charles Evans Hughes (1930, named by Hoover)
Position at the Time: Judge, Permanent Court of International Justice (also was former associate justice, named in 1910 by Taft, but left the court in 1916 to run for president)
Service Ended: 1941, retired

Harlan Stone (1941, named by FDR)
Position at the Time: Associate Justice (named by Coolidge 1925)
Service Ended: 1946, died in office

Fred Vinson (1946, named by Truman)
Position at the Time: Secretary of the Treasury
Service Ended: 1953, died in office

Earl Warren (1953, named by Eisenhower)
Position at the Time: Governor of California
Service Ended: 1969, resigned

Warren Burger (1969, named by Nixon)
Position at the Time: U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit
Service Ended: 1986, resigned

William Rehnquist (1986, named by Reagan)
Position at the Time: Associate Justice (named by Nixon 1972)

Q: In 2004, Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) lost his House seat after 35 years in office. In 1984, his brother, Rep. Dan Crane (R-IL), was defeated after being punished by the House for having sex with an underage House page. There have been lots of siblings serving together in Congress, but are the Cranes the only ones to both lose their seats? -- David Mark, Bethesda, Md.

A: Well, I do know that Frances Bolton, an Ohio Republican, lost her seat in 1968, four years after the same thing happened to her son, fellow Ohio Republican Oliver Bolton. And a father and son from Maryland, Republican senators J. Glenn Beall Sr. and J. Glenn Beall Jr., were each was defeated for re-election (in 1964 and 1976, respectively). But I haven't found an example of siblings who lost their seats. Does anyone know?

Political Hoopla: George Mikan, the former basketball legend who died on June 1st, was perhaps the best NBA star of his day, leading the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in the 1950s. Lesser known was his role as the Republican nominee for Congress in Minnesota's 3rd District in 1956. Mikan was an attorney after his basketball days, and the GOP eagerly recruited him to run in the Minneapolis suburbs district held by Democrat Roy Wier. Eisenhower had narrowly carried the district in 1952, and again won it in '56. But Wier was a canny campaigner and won re-election by about 10,000 votes (giving him 52 percent of the vote).

Our June 2nd list of presidents who have served as governor, senator and congressman is "technically correct," writes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, "but you overlook two presidents -- Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison -- who served as territorial governors as well as in the House and Senate. And if you want to get really picky, you can include Sam Houston, who was a senator, congressman, governor, and president -- of Texas."

Regarding my June 3rd NPR Web site profiles of Watergate-era figures, Bob Rosenberg of Phoenix, Ariz, says I should have included "the folks who strolled over from Capitol Hill to the White House, shortly before Nixon resigned, and told him that (1) the House would impeach him and (2) the Senate would convict him if he didn't leave. Those folks were Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), House Minority Leader John Rhodes (R-AZ), and Sen. Hugh Scott (R-PA). Many of us in Arizona found it remarkable that, on that monumentally historic occasion, two of the three were from the Grand Canyon State."

CPB Funding: As you may imagine, my in-box lately has been filled with questions about the future of NPR, funding by the CPB and the political agenda of CPB chair Ken Tomlinson. While the questions have been provocative and the topic obviously is important, I feel that this column is not the proper vehicle for it. You may want to contact NPR Corporate about the funding (or any other) issue.

This Day in Political History: The Senate votes 92-5 to censure Sen. Thomas Dodd (D-CT) for using campaign money to pay for personal bills. The five who voted no: Dodd, Russell Long (D-LA), Abe Ribicoff (D-CT), Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and John Tower (R-TX). Dodd becomes the seventh lawmaker in history to be officially censured by the Senate (June 23, 1967).