Civil Rights History of Chief Justice</B>

December 15, 1998

He is the country’s highest judge, the man who will preside over the Senate trial of President Clinton if the House of Representatives votes to impeach him. As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist would also cast the tiebreaker if a tie vote occurred in the Senate. Most people may not know that Rehnquist also appointed the judge who in turn appointed independent counsel Kenneth Starr and expanded his powers to investigate the Monica Lewinsky scandal, raising questions about a possible conflict of interest. In his 40 year legal history, Chief Rehnquist also has actively opposed desegregation–as a clerk he once wrote to the judge he worked for that "it is about time that the Court face the fact that white people in the South don’t like the colored people." In the 1960s, he also actively participated in discouraging African Americans to vote.


  • Bruce Shapiro, Editor with The Nation magazine, as well as with Salon magazine.