USAfricaonlineVIEWPOINT

Is Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist fair toall?

by Dr. RUFUS G.W SANDERS

Special to USAfrica The Newspaper


This is the same Justice William Rehnquist who responded to three Black congressman who wrote him concerning the near invisible number of minority law clerks at the Supreme Court, by saying: "wait for the demographics to change." By the way, the Chief Justice himself has hired 82 clerks; 81 have been White, none has been Black. "No need for a wider net… the system is working just fine," he said. This is the same Rehnquist who in 1974 owned a home in Vermont that contained a covenant that prohibited the sale or rental of the property to… "any member of the Hebrew race." In the 1960s his Phoenix home was barred from sale or rental to "any person not of the White or Caucasian race." He, of course, said that he had not read the deeds and knew nothing of the intricate details of the contract. And even then he was considered a polished lawyer.

Just the other day, the18,000-member National Bar Association in their national convention passed a resolution condemning the outrageous and totally insensitive behavior of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It appears that his honor (recently) while attending a judicial conference led the singing of the infamous national anthem of the now-debunked Confederates States of America. Talk about politically incorrect! This is the same 74-year-old justice, who as a Republican ideologue, had problems as to whether he testified truthfully at his own confirmation hearing. This is the same Chief Justice Rehnquist who said:"…Many would intuitively say that the task of the highest court in the land is to make sure that justice is done to every litigant… The days when it could do so are long gone."

This is the same Rehnquist, an icon of the conservative movement, who as the head of an administrative Judicial Conference; ignored evidence of alleged misconduct by various federal judges under his supervision. The same Judge Rehnquist who testified in 1986 at his nomination hearing that he had known little about army spying on antiwar protesters during his years at the Justice department; although documents were found providing that he helped to plan the illegal surveillance program. This is the same Rehnquist who responded to three Black congressman who wrote him concerning the dearth of minority law clerks at the Supreme Court, by saying: "wait for the demographics to change." By the way, the Chief Justice himself has hired 82 clerks; 81 have been White, non has been Black. "No need for a wider net… the system is working just fine," he said.

This is the same Rehnquist who in 1974 owned a home in Vermont that contained a covenant that prohibited the sale or rental of the property to… "any member of the Hebrew race." In the 1960s his Phoenix home was barred from sale or rental to "any person not of the White or Caucasian race." He of course said that he had not read the deeds and knew nothing of the intricate details of the contract. And even then he was considered a polished lawyer.

The same Rehnquist who, as a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson during the historical Brown vs Board of education, wrote a memo that inferred that the boot of segregation should not be lifted from the throats of American Blacks. In an article for The New Yorker magazine, writer Jeffery Rosen reports that Justice Rehniquist wrote, that the court should not be moved by moral or social concerns. He went on to say, "In the long run, it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are…"; he went even further to say, that Plessy vs. Ferguson (the legal foundation for mandatory racial segregation) was right and should be re-affirmed.

During his confirmation hearing in 1986 this same Rehnquist is said to have lied through his teeth, by Richard Kluges, author of a history of Brown vs. Board of Education, when he said that the memo in which he re-affirmed racial segregation represented the views of Justice Jackson and not his.

This is the same Chief Justice who after seeing a musical production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Lolanthe," ordered a black robe with four gold stripes sewn onto the sleeves. He wears this robe proudly which is reminiscent of some kind of secret mystical organization; while all the other judges on the Supreme Court wear the conventional black judicial garments of the courts.

In a moment of reprehensible disgrace, this Justice with a obvious strong racist and segregationist portfolio brought further desecration to the office of American justice by singing at a public gathering the words that have become a lasting symbol of slavery and oppression in this country: "In Dixie's land I'll take my stand to live and die in Dixie…" This, like most of his other racial professional behavior, is indicative of his insensitivity and disregard for people of color.

The National Bar Association said that the Chief Justice sing-along behavior was most shocking and offensive. I say that it was not only shocking, but it is the outrage of the post Civil Rights era; especially when it is Chief Justice Rehniquist that must preside over issues of Justice for all.


Sanders, a Suffragan Bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the world, is the founder and the pastor of the Emmanuel Temple church in Sandusky, Ohio. He has served in many leadership capacities in the organization that include national evangelist, international youth leader and missionary to West Africa.  He holds a Ph.D in American Culture Studies and served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Universities in his area.  His commentary has also appeared in Emerge magazine and the USA Today newspaper. Sanders is currently finishing work on the first ever printed biography of the founder of the 20th Pentecostal Movement; William J. Seymour. He has  recently joined USAfrica The Newspaper, The Black Business Journal and USAfricaonline.com as a contributing editor.
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