This analysis of the decision making of William H. Rehnquist from the beginning of his tenure as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1971 until he was nominated to be Chief Justice in 1986 presents a refreshing new perspective on the Burger Court's most conservative member. The common assessment of Rehnquist's career on the Supreme Court is that he has tried to put his own political agenda into effect--deciding as he wishes and justifying it later. Davis disputes that view through careful, insightful analysis of his opinions, his votes, and his public speeches. She argues that Rehnquist does, indeed, have a judicial philosophy--one that has legal positivism at its core. By examining the interaction between the facets of that judicial philosophy and Rehnquist's particular ordering of values, Davis reveals the coherence of his decision making.
The author finds that Rehnquist's hierarchy of values gives paramount importance to state autonomy, or the "new federalism." He sees the protection of private property as secondary to the significance of federalism, followed, finally, by the protection of individual rights.
Originally published in 1989.
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