Claeys on Publication of Rehnquist Biography

Commenting on the publication of what is billed as the first full biography of conservative former chief justice William Rehnquist, Professor Eric Claeys remarked that a biographer needs a decade or more after the death of a subject "to appreciate the influential legacy of a major justice." Although he has seen the book, which was written by John A. Jenkins, he has chosen not to read it, he said.

Claeys served as a clerk for Rehnquist, who died in 2005, in the mid-1990s. 

In an interview, Claeys praised Rehnquist not only as a fine judge, but also as "an even-tempered person" who was also a very good manager. He remembered that when Rehnquist reminisced about his youth, he had two points of reference: Growing up in Wisconsin and serving in the military during World War II.

"Wisconsin and the Army always trumped D.C. bureaucrats and D.C. climbers," Claeys recalled.

Rehnquist depicted as rigid ideologue, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2012. By Bill Glauber.

"The book is based on 'extensive public records documenting Rehnquist's life,' including FBI investigative files and Rehnquist's official papers. Those papers, housed at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, include 893 boxes, with 349 open to researchers.

"'Remaining boxes are closed during the lifetime of any member of the court who served with Rehnquist,' Jenkins writes." 

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