WASHINGTON -- Following is the text of President Reagan's announcement nominating William Rehnquist to be chief justice of the United States:
On May 27, 1986, Chief Justice (Warren E.) Burger advised me that he wanted to devote his full energies in the coming year to the important work of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution and for that reason would be retiring as chief justice of the Supreme Court as of the end of the court's current term.
Today, I received with regret Chief Justice Burger's letter formally notifying me of his retirement. Immediately after my conversation with the chief justice, I directed my chief of staff, together with the attorney general and the counsel to the president, to develop recommendations for a successor.
I am pleased to announce my intention to nominate William H. Rehnquist, currently an associate justice of the Supreme Court, as the new chief justice of the United States. Upon Justice Rehnquist's confirmation I intend to nominate Antonin Scalia, currently a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as Justice Rehnquist's successor.
In taking this action, I am mindful of the importance of these nominations. The Supreme Court of the United States as final arbiter of our Constitution and the meaning of our laws. The chief justice and the eight associate justices of the court must not only be jurists of the highest competence; they must also be attentive to the rights specifically guaranteed in our Constitution and to the proper role of the courts in our democratic system.
In choosing Justice Rehnquist and Judge Scalia, I have not only selected judges who are sensitive to these matters, but through their distinguished backgrounds and achievements reflect my desire to appoint the most qualified individuals to serve in our courts.
Justice Rehnquist has been an associate justice of the Supreme Court since 1971, a role in which he has served with great distinction and skill. He is noted for his intellectual power, the lucidity of his opinions, and the respect he enjoys among his colleagues. Judge Scalia has been a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1982. His great personal energy, the force of his intellect and the depth of his understanding of our constitutional jurisprudence uniquely qualify him for elevation to our highest court. I hope the Senate will promptly consider and confirm these gifted interpreters or our laws.
In closing, I want to say a word about Chief Justice Burger. He has led the Supreme Court for 17 years, a time of great change and yet a period also of consolidation and stability in the decisions of the court. Under Chief Justice Burger's guidance, the court has remained faithful to precedent while it sought out the principles that underlay the framers' words. He is retiring now in order to devote his full attentions to a momentous occasion in our country's history, the observance in 1987 of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution. This is an endeavor for which all Americans will be grateful, and to which I and the members of the administration will lend our total support.
I am proud and honored to stand here today with Chief Justice Burger, with Justice Rehnquist and with Judge Scalia, and to discharge my constitutional responsibilities as president of the United States. Thank you and God bless you all.