Rehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice of the United States

3.7 avg rating
( 10 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781439140826: Rehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice of the United States
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

"This book is a final act of posthumous loyalty. Without it, history will have an incomplete -- and I believe unbalanced -- picture of the remarkable man who was the sixteenth chief justice of the United States, a man I was proud to call my friend."

· · ·

The impact of Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- who served as a Supreme Court justice for a third of a century and headed the federal judiciary under four presidents -- cannot be overstated. His dissenting opinion in Roe v. Wade, and his strongly stated positions on issues as various as freedom of the press, school prayer, and civil rights, would guarantee his memory on their own. Chiefly, though, William Rehnquist will always be remembered for his highly visible role in two of the most important and contentious political events of recent American history: the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 and the Supreme Court's decision that made George W. Bush the victor in the presidential election of 2000.

Despite his importance as a public figure, however, William Rehnquist scrupulously preserved his private life. And while his judicial opinions often inflamed passions and aroused both ire and praise, they were rarely personal. The underlying quirks, foibles, and eccentricities of the man were always under wraps.

Now, however, journalist Herman J. Obermayer has broken that silence in a memoir of their nineteen-year friendship that is both factually detailed and intensely moving, his own personal tribute to his dearest friend. In these pages, we meet for the first time William Rehnquist the man, in a portrait that can only serve to enhance the legacy of a Chief Justice who will be remembered in history as being among America's most influential.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Ï»¿ one
TENNIS AND LITERATURE

i.

It is unlikely Bill and I would ever have met if a mutual acquaintance had not invited us to join a doubles tennis game he was organizing. If the players had not been terribly mismatched, we would not have become fast friends.

Ken Haggerty, a neighborhood dentist and a local Republican politician, invited Bill and me to join a "dream" tennis game he was organizing in the autumn of 1986. Since all of the players led active lives the "dream game" had five players, including a rotating substitute. The other players were Linwood Holton, the first Republican governor of Virginia since Reconstruction, and John (Dick) Hickey, the local Catholic bishop. We shared the same criteria: We were all political conservatives over fifty-­five. We lived near one another in Northern Virginia and were members of the Washington Golf and Country Club. Plus, none of us had a regular weekend game. It all sounded like fun.

Haggerty had organized the game like a hostess planning a dinner party. A hostess assumes that if her guests share similar worldviews, the conversation will be lively and possibly stimulating. If their political perspectives are similar, there will be none of the bitter, nasty arguments that so often ruin social events in suburban Washington.

But athletic contests are not dinner parties. Tennis especially is fun only when the players are athletically well matched. Its demand for relatively equal skills is uncompromising. Conversation is incidental. Contestants usually know nothing about each ­other's politics or philosophical musings. On€‘court chatter is usually considered intrusive. Most players resent it.

After a few weeks it became clear that the "dream game" was hopelessly dysfunctional. Haggerty's notion on how to organize a weekly tennis game was totally wrong: even though our political and philosophical outlooks were similar, our tennis skills were not even close. Haggerty was a former all-American basketball player who had captained the Holy Cross College team that included NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. None of the others could run around a backcourt half as fast as he could. Linwood Holton and I were never part of a sports ­team's starting lineup, not even at summer camp. Bill was a slightly better athlete than I was, but after high school his only competitive sports activity was social tennis. The Catholic bishop was a good athlete, but he knew so little about the game he had trouble keeping score. To compensate for an obviously awkward arrangement, Holton, always the politician, told jokes after bad points, particularly ones that were attributable to his own ineptitude.

Bill and I shared our disappointment with the way the game was evolving. We got up early on Sunday mornings to play tennis, not to listen to bad jokes. Haggerty and the bishop pretended they were having great fun; I found their upbeat chatter embarrassing. Nobody was having a good time.

While the "dream game" was becoming something of a weekly ordeal, Bill and I recognized that our athletic skills were similar. Further, we both felt that talk on the court should be limited to occasionally acknowledging a good shot by your opponent and, only when necessary, stating the score. One weekend, when Haggerty could not find four "dream game" members willing to rise early and participate in a game that was no fun, Bill and I decided to play singles together. We ended up having a good time. And for more than a dozen years, we continued to play singles every Sunday when we were both in town.

Bill, who played doubles weekly with his twentysomething law clerks, was a better doubles player than I was. The long reach that went along with the six-­foot-­two-­inch frame made him formidable at the net. On the other hand, since I preferred playing singles, I could run around the backcourt better than he could. Neither of us had strong serves. Although both of our forehands were stronger than our backhands, neither of us scored points because of our forehands' overwhelming speed.

Although we were both in our sixties, we were in good enough shape that an hour of hard-fought tennis singles was exhilarating rather than exhausting. We were not serious athletes, but we were serious players. Once we decided who served first, there was no chitchat or trips to the water cooler. Our competitive natures precluded approaching a Sunday tennis game as casual exercise.

After we began playing singles together, we never again played in a "dream game." Although Justices Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens (both of whom were better players than we were) often played singles with nonjudicial friends at Washington Golf and Country Club at the same time, they never invited us to join their game, and vice versa.

We did, however, play mixed doubles a few times each year when Bill's daughter Nancy, who lived in Middlebury, Vermont, and his sister Jean Laurin, who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, came to visit. At least one mixed-doubles match with my wife, Betty Nan, and me was usually part of ­Bill's entertainment program for both. Jean played at about the same level as Betty Nan, and Nancy was younger and a better athlete. All three women were better tennis players than their male partners. Our matches were spirited and fun. Neither family won consistently.

Probably the most memorable match with Jean and Bill began at 7:00 a.m. on the day after Nan Rehnquist's funeral. When Bill suggested the game, I questioned whether he wanted to be seen at a country club less than twenty-four hours after his ­wife's funeral. But he brushed my inquiry aside. Two hours of vigorous exercise with his sister as his partner was as good a way as any to begin the next chapter in his life.

ii.

Washington Golf and Country Club is a unique institution. Founded in 1894, it is Washington's oldest golf club and has listed on its membership roster Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson and Harding; the latter three were avid golfers who played the course regularly. Presidents Taft and Harding occasionally participated in club tournaments. Although there were no restrictions in its bylaws, blacks and Jews were not granted membership until the mid-1970s (I joined in 1978 and Bill in 1985).

Part of a country club's appeal is that within its confines the hierarchical distinctions that are part of everyday life in government and business are supposed to disappear. But country club ambience cannot always trump the real-world distinctions that exist outside its gates.

If, while waiting for our court or chatting after a match, another member stopped by, Bill usually jumped up, extended his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Bill Rehnquist." I always introduced him the same way. But only one in ten responded, "Hi, Bill." I estimate the remainder was evenly split: half continued the conversation without addressing him by name and the other half responded, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Chief Justice."

Still, I know of no activity in Washington in which rank and status mean less than in the contest for who gets to use Washington Golf's five indoor tennis courts on a mid­winter Sunday morning. Court times are allocated on the basis of stringently enforced rules. Sunday between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. is the preferred time to play tennis (before church and football). Often as many as fifty players vie for court times.

The tennis clerk begins accepting calls at 8:00 a.m. Saturday for Sunday court times. After 8:00:01 the tennis reservations telephone line is constantly busy. If a member does not slip through between busy signals until after 8:04 or 8:05, he or she probably missed the cut for the most desirable times. There are no exceptions. Everybody is on equal ground -- even the chief justice of the United States and his fellow justices, who are often battling for the same time slot. In addition to me and Bill, Justices Stevens and Scalia, the president of the club, highly paid CEOs and prominent local citizens competed against twentysomethings who were skilled speed dialers. When two justices see each other on the court early Sunday morning, they likely jest, "Where did you learn speed dialing?" or "I was told nobody gets special treatment at this club." If we were both in town and we missed our regular Sunday morning game, it was almost always attributable to our getting beaten by overwhelmed phone lines.

iii.

For many months, Bill's and my weekly tennis games were enjoyable, vigorous athletic contests. But little more. After our Sunday morning game, we usually relaxed and chatted for fifteen or twenty minutes. In the beginning we talked the universal language of small talk: sports, the weather and political trivia. It was enjoyable albeit superficial.

Then we began exploring what, if anything, we shared beyond evenly matched court skills. We were curious about each other. We were also reticent. Neither of us felt compelled to advance our relationship. Our pace was deliberate and hesitant. The most important element in our friendship, shared core values and intellectual interests, did not become apparent until after we had known each other on the tennis court for many months.

Then a period of obtuse inquiry began. It was reciprocal and unstructured. We knew that we shared certain core values. We wanted to know more about each other. But our objective was subtle, unstated.

iv.

One Sunday in 1987, for no apparent reason, we began talking about the books that we were currently reading. For many years, discussion of our recreational reading became part of our routine. It continued long after we stopped playing tennis together.

When I visited Bil...

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle Drawing on his long friendship with William Rehnquist (1924-2005), editor and publisher Herman Obermayer has written a personal memoir of the nation's 16th chief justice. Rehnquist could seem forbidding (cutting off attorneys arguing before the Supreme Court in midsentence when their allotted time was up) and a bit of a stuffed robe (he designed and wore a special version of the judicial garment, with gold arm stripes). But in a vignette recounted by Obermayer, Rehnquist sounds like a pretty good guy to pop a brew and watch a football game with. This is just what he and Obermayer were doing when the subject of TV coverage of arguments before the court came up. " 'Instant replay' would make Supreme Court viewing hugely popular," Obermayer writes of their fantasizing, "and several justices would become folk heroes and superstars. The justices . . . would change the oral argument format so that at the end of each half hour of oral argument, there would be a fifteen-minute break so the Court's John Madden would have time for a chalkboard analysis of the attorney's argument and the justices' queries." Not surprisingly in the light of riffs such as those, the Rehnquist court defended itself against TV coverage, and so far the Roberts court has held the line, too.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781476746432: Rehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1476746435 ISBN 13:  9781476746432
Publisher: Threshold Editions, 2013
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Mega Buzz
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Best Bates
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.12
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions 2009-09-15 (2009)
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Ebooksweb COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions 2009-09-15, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. y First edition. 1439140820. Seller Inventory # Z1439140820ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.13
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Obermayer, Herman
Published by Threshold Editions
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Quantity Available: 7
Seller:
TextbookRush
(Grandview Heights, OH, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions. Condition: Brand New. Seller Inventory # 42762120

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 6.02
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Herman Obermayer
Published by Threshold Editions (2009)
ISBN 10: 1439140820 ISBN 13: 9781439140826
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Threshold Editions, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. First. Seller Inventory # DADAX1439140820

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 12.04
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book