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Tuesday, December 15, 1998

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  • Civil Rights History of Chief Justice

    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.

  • Lawyers, Students Address Lack of Law Clerk Diversity

    Last October 5th, the opening session at the Supreme Court, a coalition of civil rights organizations and legal organizations demonstrated on the front steps of the highest court. The event was part of an intensive campaign to urge Chief Justice William Rehnquist to meet with leaders about increasing the number of minority law clerks hired by the Justices. The protest resulted in the arrest of Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and 18 other activists, as they attempted to deliver resumes of qualified minority law school graduates to the justices.

  • Talk with Former Supreme Court Clerk

    The issue of racial and gender diversity in the hiring of law clerks at the Supreme Court has huge implications. The task of a Supreme Court clerk goes much beyond what one might expect. Clerks play an important role in selecting what cases are considered by the justices, and write drafts for many of the opinions issued by the court. We now turn to a former clerk for a look at the influence law clerks have over Supreme Court decisions, and for a first-hand account of Chief Rehnquist’s reign over the Supreme Court.