William H. Rehnquist, the 16th Chief Justice of the United States and a leader of the court’s conservative bloc for three decades, died Saturday evening at his home in Arlington, a court spokesman announced. His death creates the first vacancy for a chief justice since 1986.
Rehnquist was regarded as one of the most conservative justices in modern Supreme Court history, first as an often lone dissenter in the 1970s and 80s and later, when the court’s makeup changed, as a stalwart of the conservative bloc.
He wrote and voted consistently in favor of expansive powers for police and prosecutors in criminal cases and in favor of the power of the states to impose capital punishment.
He believed the court had gone too far in separating church and state and voted to allow school prayer and public funding for many types of religious activity.
He dissented in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and in all the cases upholding government sponsored affirmative action.
But what is to come? Any speculations?