High court choices to affect generations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Americans flocked to the polls last November for the presidential election, many with the hope that the candidate they selected would make critical decisions on filling any potential U.S. Supreme Court vacancies.

Today, our nation is facing two vacancies on the highest court in the land.

The decisions of who will fill these positions will have ramifications for decades to come and it remains of utmost importance to make sure we choose the right individuals that will hold the U.S. Constitution dear and interpret the law as it was intended.

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We can only hope to find someone as passionate and dedicated at Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who died Saturday of cancer, ending a 33-year career on the court.

The 80-year-old U.S. Army veteran presided over many landmark cases in our history, decisions that will not soon to be forgotten.

Rehnquist presided over President Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999, helped settle the 2000 presidential election in Bush's favor and fashioned decisions over the years that diluted the powers of the federal government while strengthening those of the states.

Regardless of how you feel about his views of legal opinions, the Rehnquist always held his ground and spoke his mind- even when the majority of the court leaned a different direction. He was never afraid to dissent if he felt it was the right thing to do. We need that in any replacement nominated to fill his shoes.

Rehnquist adamantly believed the Constitution allowed states many individual freedoms over federal laws including the right to outlaw abortion and sponsor prayers in public schools. The majority of the court, however, disagreed.

In 2003, the court preserved affirmative action in college admissions and struck down laws criminalizing gay sex, both over Rehnquist's objections. And, last year, Rehnquist disagreed when the court ruled that the government cannot indefinitely detain terrorism suspects and deny them access to courts.

Most important, the judge never wavered from his convictions. We hope his replacement, whether it is John Roberts or someone else, can fill Rehnquist's distinguished robe.