Supreme Court To Break Up If Rehnquist Leaves

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Vol 41 Issue 03

White House Dishwasher Tenders Resignation

WASHINGTON, DC—T. Eric Mayhew, 36, who began working in the White House kitchen the day President George W. Bush took office, submitted his resignation Monday. "The noble work of dishwashing preceded my appointment to this job and will continue long after I leave," Mayhew said. "It was an honor to serve under the president. I leave my post proudly, knowing the White House flatware is more sanitary today than it was when I began my work here." Mayhew will maintain his position until Bush appoints a replacement.

Mets Earmark $53 Million For Pitching Relief

NEW YORK—Following a stormy 2004 season that some observers called nothing short of a disaster, the New York Mets have addressed the tidal wave of criticism by earmarking more than $53 million to pitching relief. "We're doing all we can to salvage what's left of our team in this emergency situation," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said of his team, which signed pitcher Pedro Martinez in recent weeks. "We ask that everyone say a prayer for us as we attempt to rebuild this once-thriving franchise." The Mets also signed outfielder Carlos Beltran, dedicating $117 million to shore up a defense that has recently been flooded with runs.

Caged Saddam To Be Highlight Of Inaugural Ball

WASHINGTON, DC—Attendees at the Independence Ball, one of nine officially sanctioned galas celebrating President George W. Bush's second inauguration Thursday, will be treated to a viewing of a caged Saddam Hussein, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "What better way to honor the president than with a physical symbol of his many first-term triumphs?" McClellan said as Hussein rattled the bars of a cage already suspended above the ballroom where the event will be held. "And I must compliment the planning committee. Outfitting Gitmo detainees with iron collars and forcing them to serve appetizers was an inspired stroke." Ball attendees will also be awarded door prizes, including a basket of nuts, 20 yards of cloth, and a barrel of crude oil.

Georgia's Evolution Stickers

Last week, a U.S. district judge ordered a Georgia school district to remove stickers reading, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact" from its textbooks. What do you think?

Junk Yardin'

Hola, amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've had a fistful of problems lately. I had to beg Ron for a second chance at the crappy carbonics plant. That sucked, first because I hate begging, and second because I hate begging Ron. I had to remind him of the time I pulled this guy with a USMC tattoo off of him after he got too friendly with the marine's woman. I was hoping to cash that favor in for something good, instead I had to waste it on a job.
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Supreme Court To Break Up If Rehnquist Leaves

WASHINGTON, DC—Responding to widespread speculation, members of the U.S. Supreme Court told reporters Monday that they will not continue to hear cases if Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 80, steps down.

The Supreme Court, which plans to split if Chief Justice Rehnquist (below) leaves.

"It just wouldn't be the same court without Bill," Justice David Souter said. "He's the heart and soul of this judicature, the one who motivates us to keep ruling. I can't imagine doing it without him."

In October, Rehnquist, who has served on the Supreme Court for 33 years, announced that he has thyroid cancer. The statement led some to speculate that he will not complete his annual term.

"The Supreme Court is a middle-aged man's game," Rehnquist told Law and Justice magazine in November 1997. "I can't see myself swinging the gavel at 90. I just don't have the stamina."

At an informal hearing held in Justice Steven J. Breyer's kitchen in December, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 1 in favor of breaking up, with Justice Antonin Scalia abstaining from the vote. Rehnquist was the sole dissenting voice.

"Bill kept arguing that no matter what happened, the Supreme Court should continue," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said. "It was touching to see how much faith he has in us, but I think the majority opinion is in favor of quitting while we're on top, rather than muddling through a bunch of mediocre judicial sessions and becoming some sort of kangaroo court."

Continued O'Connor, "The hardest thing to achieve with a judicial body as large as ours is a rapport. To effectively interpret the law, you need that certain magical something. Without Rehnquist, we'll lose that vibe."

Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed.

"Maybe you have to be sitting on the bench to understand, but there's something special about Rehnquist," Kennedy said. "You can feel the electricity fill the air as soon as the court marshal calls out, 'Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the court is now sitting.'"

While he was not appointed chief justice until 1986, Rehnquist has appeared on more television shows and in more magazines than any justice in the history of the Supreme Court.

"Rehnquist's been the court's spiritual leader since being sworn in in 1972," Souter said. "Right now, the Supreme Court is the most powerful legal body in the country. I think we'd all prefer to go down in the books that way."

Bernard Tomaine, publisher of the Supreme Court fanzine The Docket, characterized Rehnquist's role as "essential."

"When Rehnquist leaves, it's going to be the end of an era," Tomaine said. "He's absolutely irreplaceable."

Added Tomaine: "I've got a bootleg copy of an opinion that Rehnquist wrote for U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez that would blow your mind."

Although the associate justices have yet to announce their plans following the dissolution of the Supreme Court, Tomaine said he believes that many will continue on with solo judiciary projects.

"I don't think they're ready to give up interpreting the law just yet," Tomaine said. "I wouldn't be surprised if a number of these justices get together and start something very similar to the Supreme Court, but under a different name. I heard that Scalia wants to set up a new organization under the name 'The U.S. Supreme Court featuring Antonin Scalia.' Personally, I think it's very disrespectful to use the name of that honorable institution, but I suppose it's his right."

While no definitive time frame has been established for Rehnquist's departure, many speculate that it will be soon.

"Swearing in Bush for his second term will be a big moment," Tomaine said. "Unless he's got something up his sleeve for [terrorism suspect Zacarias] Moussaoui's trial, he'll probably leave right after the inauguration. I can't see Rehnquist going out on a quiet note. That's just not his style."

Although the justices' resolve seems strong, some fans of the Supreme Court say the eight justices will change their minds after Rehnquist leaves.

"This is not the first time a government branch has threatened to quit for personal reasons," said Henry Loghermann, a prominent Washington D.C. historian and Supreme Court groupie. "Take the Department of the Interior in the '80s. They kept saying that if James Watt left, they'd all go their separate ways. Well, Watt left, and the DOI is still going strong. And I can't even count how many times the British House of Lords has broken up and reformed in the past 50 years. When the harsh reality sets in, the high court will see what few options they have and cut the bluster."

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