ABA Journal features behind-the-scenes look at deceased chief justice

ABA Journal's March 2010 issue cover story "The William Rehnquist You Didn't Know" features excerpts from Herman Obermayer's 2009 book, "Rehnquist: A Personal Portrait of the Distinguished Chief Justice of the United States."

The ABA Journal's short vignettes paint a picture of a very private man, as seen through the eyes of his dear and close friend. From Rehnquist's obsession with punctuality, to his frugality, to his deep intellect and love of literature, movies, gossip and cigarettes, Obermayer shares with readers a side of the chief justice rarely seen or known outside his small circle.

The nearly 20-year friendship between Obermayer and Rehnquist was born of deep respect for each other's intellectual interests and a shared generational perspective. Obermayer was an editor-publisher for more than five decades and had the good fortune to be a neighbor of the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Their introduction occurred over tennis, but their 20-year friendship blossomed through shared beliefs and a depth of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.

"This book received little fanfare when it was first published last fall," said Ed Adams, editor and publisher of ABA Journal. "We recognized that such an intimate profile§filled with snippets of fascinating up-close observation§would be of interest to the entire legal community. We wanted it to have greater exposure because of the decisions that came from the U.S. Supreme Court during his 19-year tenure, and because nothing like it had been published about Chief Justice Rehnquist before."

Appointed U.S. chief justice in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Rehnquist joined the court in 1972 as a Richard Nixon appointee; he was the longest serving justice since Melville Fuller who died in office in 1910. Rehnquist was only the second chief justice in history to preside over a presidential impeachment hearing during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton; and it was before his court that Gore v. Bush was heard. Rehnquist died in 2005; the author called the book "a final act of posthumous loyalty."

Published: Mon, Mar 8, 2010