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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

William Rehnquist, R.I.P.

Interesting details about the Chief Justice's funeral -- what a wonderful and dignified man:

At the request of Rehnquist's family, television cameras were barred from the cathedral. Nor was there any live audio coverage.

Upon arrival at St. Matthew's, the casket was carried by eight of Rehnquist's former law clerks past the eight Supreme Court justices who served with him.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, welcomed those attending the funeral and praised Rehnquist as a "loving father and husband, an outstanding legal scholar, a tireless champion of life and a true lover of the law," AP reported. McCarrick said the chief justice was "in every sense, a great American."

Before the funeral, the body of Rehnquist, who died Saturday night at age 80 from thyroid cancer, lay in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court for two days, as thousands of people filed by his coffin to pay their last respects. Among the last to view the coffin there were members of the U.S. Senate, who praised Rehnquist's tenure on the Supreme Court and his handling of the court's business and personalities.

"He kept the members of the court together, despite their many differences," said Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Moments before the coffin was removed from the Supreme Court, ministers from the Northern Virginia church Rehnquist attended, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean, bowed their heads in prayer. "We thank you for the role that he has played in our lives, his influence among us," said Rev. Jeffrey M. Wilson, associate pastor of the church.

Although Rehnquist was a Lutheran, his family requested that the funeral service be held at St. Matthew's because there was more space in the Roman Catholic church, which seats about 2,000.

Also offering eulogies at St. Matthew's today were two of Rehnquist's children -- James Rehnquist and Nancy Spears -- and his granddaughter, Natalie Lynch.
Rehnquist is entitled to burial at Arlington National Cemetery because of both his position on the Supreme Court and his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. His burial was the last of 29 scheduled today at the cemetery, whose Web site listed him simply as an Army sergeant. "William H. Rehnquist, Sgt., USA," the funeral schedule said.

Rehnquist's wife, Natalie Cornell Rehnquist, who died in 1991 of ovarian cancer at age 62, is buried at Arlington National. The tombstone over her grave also lists her husband's name, with open spaces for the date of his death and the last year of his tenure as chief justice.

May he rest in peace.