adBlockCheck

Supreme Court To Break Up If Rehnquist Leaves

Top Headlines

Government

How Obamacare Can Be Improved

With Aetna just the latest health insurance provider to opt out of covering Obamacare markets, many are wondering what changes can make the Affordable Care Act more appealing to customers and insurance companies. Here are some proposed improvements

NSA: ‘Can Somebody Good At Computers Help Us?’

FORT MEADE, MD—Explaining that things weren’t working right and he didn’t know why, visibly frustrated National Security Agency director Michael S. Rogers called a press conference Thursday afternoon to ask if somebody good at computers could help out the intelligence organization.

Secretary Of Interior Unveils Plans For New High-Speed Creek

WASHINGTON—Calling the $650 million project the “future of America’s pastoral waterways,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell unveiled the agency’s plans for a new high-speed creek Thursday that would reportedly connect Weybridge, VT with the adjacent town of Addison.

The Pros And Cons Of Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court upheld a challenge to the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action program Thursday, reigniting debate over the merits of policies that favor members of groups frequently targeted by discrimination. Here are the pros and cons of affirmative action

47 Weak-Willed Senators Bend To Interests Of Powerful American People

WASHINGTON—Saying the closely watched Senate vote clearly demonstrated where the elected officials’ loyalties lay, political observers confirmed that 47 weak-willed lawmakers bent to the interests of the powerful American public Monday by voting in favor of measures that would bar anyone on government terror watchlists from purchasing firearms.

John Kerry Jettisons Russian Henchmen From International Space Station Airlock

LOW EARTH ORBIT—Having stowed away aboard a Soyuz resupply rocket and silently slipped into the International Space Station as part of a high-level fact-finding mission, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly found himself forced to jettison two Russian henchmen from an airlock Monday after being set upon by the thugs in an ambush that resulted in a violent zero-gravity struggle to the death.

CDC Horrified After Discovering Existence Of Thousands Of Public Pools

WASHINGTON—Calling the finding an imminent threat to public health nationwide, horrified officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convened an emergency press conference Wednesday to announce they had discovered the existence of thousands of public pools throughout the country.

Obama Discovers Telepathic Connection With Military Drone In Afghanistan

‘Our Minds Have Become One,’ Shaken President Says

WASHINGTON—Appearing frightened and confused by his unexplained new powers, President Barack Obama reportedly pulled members of the White House staff aside Wednesday to inform them of his recently discovered telepathic connection with an Afghanistan-based military drone.

The TSA’s Plans For Improvement

The Transportation Security Administration has pledged to revamp its processes in response to recent record-setting airport lines and wait times. Here are some ways in which the TSA plans to improve

EPA Urges Flint Residents To Stop Dumping Tap Water Down Drain

FLINT, MI—Citing the significant health and safety risks that it poses to public infrastructure and the local ecosystem, the Environmental Protection Agency released a statement Thursday urging residents of Flint to discontinue dumping tap water down their drains.

Upcoming Changes To U.S. Currency

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew recently announced a series of significant changes to U.S. currency. Here are some of the more notable alterations on the horizon

Head Of IRS Has Personal Filing System To Keep Track Of Nation’s Tax Returns

Commissioner’s Office Cluttered With 100 Million Folders

WASHINGTON—Pointing out the towering stacks of manila folders cluttering his desk and stepping carefully around the millions of forms laid out on his office floor, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service John Koskinen showed reporters Thursday his own personal filing system for keeping track of everyone in the nation’s tax returns.

Pentagon Holds Gala To Celebrate 25 Years Of Bombing Iraq

WASHINGTON—Bringing together the many civilian leaders and military strategists who helped them reach such a historic milestone, Pentagon officials held a lavish black-tie gala Sunday at which, sources said, they commemorated 25 years of the United States bombing Iraq.

How Firearm Background Checks Work

With gun violence in the United States rising to unprecedented levels, many lawmakers have pushed to expand federal background checks for the purchase of firearms. Here’s how background checks are currently conducted

How Refugees Are Admitted Into The U.S.

The United States’ effort to accept Syrian refugees seeking asylum has been the subject of much controversy over security concerns and the rigor of the vetting process. Here are the steps involved in a refugee’s arrival in America

City Adds Some Big Concrete Stairs

They’re For Sitting On Or Running Up Or Something

CHICAGO—Noting the structure’s considerable size and prominent location in a busy public park, local residents confirmed Tuesday that the city had installed some big concrete stairs that were probably for sitting on or running up or something like that.

How To Reform The Nation’s Prison System

With pressing issues such as overcrowding, overuse of solitary confinement, and the long-term incarceration of nonviolent offenders, many critics of the nation’s prison system are calling for sweeping reforms. Here are some of the proposals to improve the prison system:

NASA Deploys Congressional Rover To Search For Funding

WASHINGTON—Calling the program “the most crucial in the agency’s history,” researchers at NASA announced Wednesday they have successfully deployed a Special Exploratory Rover to Congress as part of an open-ended mission to seek out any possible trace of funding on Capitol Hill.

Is The Nation Ready For The Next Katrina?

Friday marks the 10-year anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and many commentators have argued that not enough has been done over the past decade to address infrastructure and emergency response issues that could put coastal cities nationwide, including New Orleans, at risk of a catastrophe on a similar scale. Is the nation prepared for another Katrina?

Biden Offers Government Post To Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark

WASHINGTON—Calling the late-night horror film host well-suited for the job “and then some,” Vice President Joe Biden offered Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, an entry-level position within the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, White House sources confirmed Thursday.

Nicaraguan Diplomat Drops Deadly Spider Onto John Kerry’s Blanket

ISLA GRANDE DEL MAÍZ, NICARAGUA—Creeping stealthily into the bungalow where John Kerry lay sleeping after a trade summit Thursday, Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Santos López, illuminated only by a sliver of moon, reportedly slid open the lid of a small pine box and released a deadly Brazilian wandering spider onto the blanket of his American counterpart.

Resolute Congress Passes Second Amendment Again

WASHINGTON—Easily securing the requisite two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, a resolute United States Congress responded to the ongoing national debate on gun rights Tuesday by passing the Second Amendment again.

What’s Next For U.S.-Cuban Relations

After 54 years of closure, the U.S. embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C. each began flying their flags once more this week, a symbol of the restored diplomatic ties between the two nations. Here is what we can expect from the relationship going forward

Nation’s Homophobic Bigots Pack It In

‘Rules Are Rules,’ Say Those With Deeply Ingrained Prejudices

WASHINGTON—Following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, the nation’s homophobic bigots reportedly conceded today that “rules are rules” and announced that they were going to pack it in.

Report Finds Drug Tunnels Most Intact Transport Infrastructure In U.S.

ARLINGTON, VA—Touting the extensive safety precautions, routine maintenance, and limited congestion, a report published Friday by the American Transportation Research Institute revealed that drug tunnels are now the most intact and reliable form of transport infrastructure in the United States.

Vilsack Stays Up All Night With Sick Corn Plant

WASHINGTON—Gently applying a cool cloth to the plant’s kernels as he cradled its frail stalk in his arms, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stayed up all night caring for a sick corn plant, sources close to the former Iowa governor confirmed Tuesday.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Government

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."

Government Video

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close