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Rehnquist (William H.) papers
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: William H. Rehnquist papers
    Date (inclusive): 1947-2005
    Collection Number: 2009C15
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 591 manuscript boxes, 291 cubic foot boxes, 2 card file boxes, 2 oversize boxes (539.0 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Documents the Supreme Court terms of William H. Rehnquist, associate justice from 1972 to 1986 and chief justice from 1986 to 2005. Materials include court case files, administrative files, conference files, correspondence, speeches and writings, book manuscripts, invitations, and other materials. Also includes Rehnquist's law school notebooks from his time at Stanford Law School in 1951 and 1952.
    Creator: Rehnquist, William H., 1924-2005
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    U.S. Supreme Court case files and related materials for the Supreme Court's October Terms 1987-2005 in boxes 568-886 shall remain closed during the lifetime of any member of the Supreme Court who served with William H. Rehnquist. Impeachment files in boxes 322-331 (including video depositions in box 330) are closed until 2048 in accordance with Senate Resolution 474. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2008.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William H. Rehnquist papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Biographical Note

    Born on October 1, 1924 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, William Hubbs Rehnquist served in the Army Air Corps in North Africa during World War II. Once the war ended he attended Stanford University, where he received a B.A. in political science. He then earned master's degrees from both Stanford and Harvard, before completing Stanford Law School in 1952. After completing law school, Rehnquist served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson.
    Rehnquist married Natalie Cornell, whom he had met at Stanford during his law school years, on August 29, 1953. They had three children. Rehnquist practiced law in Phoenix, Arizona, from 1953 to 1969, becoming active in Republican politics during this time. Joining President Richard Nixon's administration in 1969 as head of the office of legal counsel in the Justice Department, in October 1971, President Nixon nominated Rehnquist to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court.
    Rehnquist served as an associate justice until 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to replace retiring Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger. Rehnquist was the sixteenth Chief Justice, serving more than 30 years on the Supreme Court. He has the distinction of serving as the second Chief Justice in U.S. history to preside over an impeachment trial of a president, in 1999. A notable decision in Rehnquist's tenure as chief justice was Bush v. Gore (2000), which effectively decided the 2000 presidential election for George W. Bush by stopping the recount of contested ballots in Florida.
    As Chief Justice, Rehnquist stated that his goal was to be remembered as a good administrator. Known for his strong leadership, conservative interpretation of the Constitution, and decisions enhancing the power of the states in the federal system, Rehnquist retained his conservative perspective throughout his tenure on the Court. Ill with thyroid cancer, Rehnquist served as Chief Justice as long as his health permitted. He died on September 3, 2005, in Arlington, Virginia, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


    • "William Rehnquist" in American Decades 1990-1999. Tandy McConnell, ed. Gale Group, 2001 in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Accessed 3 November 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC
    • "William Rehnquist," The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Ed. Arnold Markoe, Karen Markoe, and Kenneth T. Jackson. Vol. 7: 2003-2005. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007 in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Accessed 3 November 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The William H. Rehnquist papers mainly document Rehnquist's time as a justice of the United States Supreme Court, from 1972 to 1986, then as chief justice from 1986 to 2005. A small amount of material also documents Rehnquist's studies at Stanford Law School in 1951 and 1952.
    The Stanford Law School Notebooks and Journal contain Rehnquist's class notes, with another volume documenting his accounts and personal journal entries with non-continuously dated portions from 1947 to 1965.
    Documentation on the U.S. Supreme Court includes Administrative Files, which document the functional management of the court. Materials include stays, opinions, subject files, correspondence, conference and order lists, and vote sheets. Some administrative files contain collected information on subjects such as abortion cases or capital cases.
    U.S. Supreme Court Case Files contain official printed drafts of each case opinion circulated among the justices. Some files also contain concise correspondence, memoranda, and other materials regarding the case. In many instances there are multiple cases within one file. Materials are organized by the court term, or October term, in which the case was heard.
    The U.S. Supreme Court Administrative and Case Files from 1972 through 1974, and Rehnquist's Stanford Law School Notebooks and Journal were opened November 17, 2008. Printed Opinions and Syllabi, Correspondence, and materials on Rehnquist's books, as well as additional materials including speeches, writings, notebooks, and other documents, opened in August 2009.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Law -- United States
    United States. Supreme Court