Project 21 Press Release: Black Activists Mourn the Passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist’s passing is mourned by members of the black leadership network Project 21.

“Chief Justice Rehnquist will be remembered as one of a few historic heads of the Supreme Court,” said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a law professor at the George Mason University Law School.  “A conservative jurist who was appointed to an activist liberal Court, Chief Justice Rehnquist helped restore a new federalism in constitutional law and strengthened local law enforcement.  His tenure marked a new tolerance for faith and religion in the public square.  Overall, the Rehnquist Court significantly moderated the activist liberalism of earlier courts.  He was a brilliant, principled lawyer who reflected the commonsense conservative values of our nation.  His stewardship of the Supreme Court will be greatly missed.”

Chief Justice Rehnquist was first appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court as an associate justice by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972, and was promoted to Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.  On the Court, he was known as a strong advocate of freeing state governments from overreaching federal intrusion and of conservative values.  He was only the second chief justice to preside over a presidential impeachment.  He died on September 3 after battling thyroid cancer.

“Rehnquist was a jurist who truly understood the role of the court.  He did not let personal opinions cloud his interpretation of the Constitution,” said Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore.  “His opinions were grounded in the idea that he is to interpret the law, not create it.”

Project 21 member Mychal Massie added: “The passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist leaves America with not only one less constitutionalist, but one less judicial statesman.  He now takes his place as one of America’s judicial servants whose fidelity was to that document that insures life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all Americans.  We are blessed to have had him serve in our lifetime.”

“Chief Justice Rehnquist’s gentlemanly demeanor showed that it is indeed possible to disagree without being disagreeable, despite the deteriorating cordiality of American politics,” noted Project 21 member Michael King.  “Chief Justice Rehnquist’s standard is one that we, as a nation, should follow. President Bush now has the formidable task of selecting a jurist who will live up to this standard.  Rehnquist’s replacement should be someone who will follow the will of the Framers’ as set forth in the Constitution, and should not attempt to legislate from the bench.”

Project 21 takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee, but believes that it is in the best interest of the United States that judicial vacancies are filled with appropriate speed.

For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at New Visions Commentaries can be found at

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.