Rehnquist New Chief Justice

Published: 1986
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Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger and Associate Justice William Rehnquist (R), talk to reporters at the White House on June 17, 1986, following the announcement of Burger’s retirement and President Reagan’s nomination of Rehnquist to be his successor. (UPI Photo/Doug Mills/Files)

Ronald Reagan: Today, I receive with regret Chief Justice Burger's letter formally notifying me of his retirement.

Dennis Daily: The highest court in the land got a change of face in 1986 when Chief Justice Warren Burger resigned to have more time to organize a celebration for the US constitution's bicentennial. The President promoted William Rehnquist to be chief Justice and filled out the court with the Washington DC Federal Judge named Antonin Scalia. For Scalia, the son of an immigrant family, it was an unexpected honor.

Antonin Scalia: Getting nominated to the Supreme Court is the combination of a dream, of course, and I am greatly honored that the President would have such confidence in me and hope that the senate will do so as well and I'll certainly do whatever I can to live up to it.

Denis Daily: Scalia was confirmed unanimously, though some senators said Rehnquist was too extreme to be Chief Justice, he too was confirmed. This means the conservative majority of the court is now a lot younger and with justices appointed for life, a conservative Supreme Court may turn out to be Ronald Reagan's most endearing legacy.