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Friday, February 18, 2005

Judicial Process

A piece from CQ Today mentioning that Chief Justice William Rehnquist would not join his Supreme Court colleagues hearing arguments when the session starts next week asks again the question of how the highest court in the land functions when one of its members is unable to fully contribute to the work of the court but does not resign or pass away. One wonders about how this will be dealt with in light of commentary in the Post that suggested that Rehnquist was only partially active last fall, and reminded readers of a similar circumstance not too long ago.

Justice William O. Douglas, however, insisted on staying in office for months after suffering a devastating stroke on Dec. 31, 1974. His mental and physical deterioration was such that the eight other justices at the time -- including Rehnquist -- voted not to count Douglas's vote if it would decide a case.

Questions anyone?