The Contributions of William H. Rehnquist to American Constitutional Jurisprudence

February 8, 2008
Rehnquist Poster

Akhil Reed Amar, Yale College and Yale Law School; Charles J. Cooper, Cooper & Kirk PLLC; Donald L. Drakeman, Princeton University; Richard W. Garnett, University of Notre Dame Law School; Robert P. George, Princeton University; Kent Greenawalt, Columbia University; R. Shep Melnick, Boston College; Robert F. Nagel, University of Colorado Law School; Kim L. Scheppele, Princeton University; Stephen J. Schulhofer, New York University School of Law; Stephen F. Smith, University of Virginia School of Law; Keith E. Whittington, Princeton University; Bradford P. Wilson, Princeton University.

William H. Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by Richard Nixon in 1971 and was elevated by Ronald Reagan in 1986 to the office of Chief Justice of the United States. Rehnquist’s long and influential tenure on the nation’s highest court ended with his death on September 3, 2005. Rehnquist is recognized as a vigorous champion of judicial restraint and a strong critic of attempts to understand America’s founding document as a “living Constitution” -- that is, a Constitution whose meaning shifts over time by means of judicial rulings. But what was his understanding of the principles and written words of the Constitution, as he applied them in modern circumstances? And how successful was he in persuading his Supreme Court colleagues of the correctness of his constitutional views? As an avenue into assessing the jurisprudential legacy of William Rehnquist, we have chosen to examine three areas of constitutional interpretation in which he made influential and lasting contributions -- federalism, constitutional criminal procedure, and the place of religion in our constitutional design. Our conference is intended to honor the memory and the public service of William H. Rehnquist by bringing together a distinguished group of legal scholars to examine and evaluate his work as a constitutional jurist.


Federalism as a Constitutional Principle

Constitutional Criminal Procedure

Religion and the Constitution


Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall

Cosponsored by:

  • Program in Law and Public Affairs

Photo Album:

  • Participants in Rehnquist conference
  • Participants in Rehnquist conference
  • Participants in Rehnquist conference