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Friday, July 18, 2014

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

Rehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice of the United StatesRehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice of the United States by Herman Obermayer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I always thought Chief Justice Rehnquist was a great Chief Justice and thought this would give me insight on him as a man. When I first starting reading this book, I learned the author and Rehnquist became friends when they were in their sixties. At first the author had me thinking that he was going to out Rehnquist, but boy was I wrong. It is the two men were very best friends who sent a lot of time together. The book was a enjoyable read. I did learn a lot about Rehnquist as a man, more than I think I would have learned in any other book. Below are quotes are observations I learned from this great book:

On page 18 and other places he mentions (the author) and Rehnquist both had read the book, "The Road to Serfdom." The book shaped both of their lives and ideas about their political philosophy.

On page 112 the author, who is Jewish, shares how Rehnquist asked to join Obermayer's family for Passover Seder. One of the traditions in this Seder is the Madrigal of Numbers. This so fasinated me that I took the time to google "Madrigal of Numbers." I wish to study and learned more about them. I have copied and pasted below the "Madrigal of Numbers:"

The leader asks the questions. The whole company responds, each reading as fast as possible, in the effort to finish the answer first.
Who knows One?
I know One: One is the God of the World.
Who knows Two?
I know Two: Two Tables of the Covenant. One God of the World.
Who knows Three?
I know Three: Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Four?
I know Four: Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Five?
I know Five: Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Six?
I know Six: Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Seven?
I know Seven: Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Eight?
I know Eight: Eight Lights of Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Nine?
I know Nine: Nine Festivals *; Eight Lights of
Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Ten?
I know Ten: Ten Commandments; Nine Festivals; Eight Lights of Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Eleven?
I know Eleven: Eleven Stars in Joseph's Dream; Ten Commandments; Nine Festivals; Eight Lights of Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Twelve?
I know Twelve: Twelve Tribes; Eleven Stars; Ten Commandments; Nine Festivals; Eight Lights of Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.
Who knows Thirteen?
I know Thirteen: Thirteen Attributes of God *; Twelve Tribes; Eleven Stars; Ten Commandments; Nine Festivals; Eight Lights of Ḥanukkah; Seven Days of the Week; Six Days of Creation; Five Books of Moses; Four Mothers of Israel; Three Patriarchs; Two Tables of the Covenant; One God of the World.

On page 120 the author explains Bill enjoyment of riddles. He goes on to tell of a riddle that Bill solved that was posed by Dr. Gridlock, the author of a column in the "Washington Post." Here is the riddle: What automobile is referred to in a license plate that reads 1 DIV 0? On Supreme Court stationary, Bill wrote the "Post's" columnist the correct answer:
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I believe it refers to an Infiniti, since you divide 0 into 1 the result is infinity.

(This is the author talking about himself on page 142) I enjoy and treasure my library. When I work, read, or snooze surrounded by familiar books, I feel I am in the presence of old friends who have guided me though good times and bad. Betty Nan (his wife) calls it my "security blanket" - and there is more than an element of truth in that. [I'm sure those of us who are book worms can relate.]

(on page 194 the author discusses the books Bill has written) Only two Chief justices have written books during their incumbency: John Marshall, who wrote a five-volume biography of George Washington, his wartime commander, and William Rehnquist. Both men wrote history on two levels: while fastidiously chronicling the details of interesting personalities and events, they discussed important ideas about government and the law under the historical study rubric. Marshall wrote about the principles and virtues of the dying Federalist Party, under whose banner he had been elected to Congress and been appointed secretary of state. Bill chose to write about anomalous legal-political situations that tended to prove the fragility of America's constitutional system.

A few things you may want to know about Rehnquist: He was the Chief Justice who was high visible in his role over the Bill Clinton impeachment and also over the Bush-Gore election result. As a justice he he had a dissenting opinion in "Roe v. Wade." He served under four presidents and for over a third of a century.

The Four books Bill Rehnquist wrote are:

"All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime"
"The Supreme Court: How It Was, How It Is"
"Centennial Crisis: The Disputed Election of 1876"
"Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson" [This book was started before anyone knew about the possiblity of the clinton impeachment]

If you enjoy history and biographies then you will love this book!

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