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DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2004®

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SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: 'CAN’T HELP BUT THINK ABOUT RETIREMENT'
MON, MAR 08, 2004 16:42:31 ET

**Exclusive**

NBC's 'TODAY SHOW' SCORES EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST... TO AIR WEDNESDAY.

THE CHIEF SUPREME FUELS SPECULATION ABOUT WHETHER HE’LL STEP DOWN WITH CRYPTIC COMMENT: "YOU CAN’T HELP BUT THINK ABOUT RETIREMENT."

HE SAYS THE DISPUTED 2000 ELECTION "INSPIRED" HIM TO WRITE HIS LATEST BOOK, ABOUT THE CONTRELECTION OF 1876!

HE ALSO REFUSES TO CRITICIZE SCALIA IN CHENEY RECUSAL CASE!

ALSO TAKES TODAY’S JAMIE GANGEL ON AN INSIDE TOUR OF THE SUPREME COURT.

On the constant speculation about his retirement:

QUESTION:

When-- last year, there was a lot of speculation about your retirement. You are turning 80 this year. And obviously that speculation was either premature or ill-informed. Do you think though about retirement?

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Well, at age 79 you can't help but think about retirement.

QUESTION:

(CHUCKLES) Seriously? Are you making news here? Are you telling me?

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

No, I'm not-- (CHUCKLES) I assure you I'm not making it. I'm just saying, when you get to be 79 years old (CHUCKLES) you know you obviously think, you know, your life expectancy isn't what it once was. (CHUCKLES)

QUESTION:

Hmmmm.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

And you-- you've got to think about the possibility of retirement.

QUESTION:

For the foreseeable future though, you're staying on the court?

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Well, I'll just stick with what I just said.

ON THE CONTROVERSIAL 2000 BUSH-GORE ELECTION BATTLE DECIDED BY THE SUPREME COURT:

QUESTION:

This is your fourth history book…..Did you write this book-- did you pick this topic before 2000? Or were you inspired by 2000?

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

I-- I was more or less inspired by 2000. I didn't think anything about a book on the subject until after-- after the election.

I know you have a rule about not talking about contemporary cases.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Yes, I do.

QUESTION:

So we're gonna walk (CHUCKLES) we're gonna walk a fine line here. But you have written about how it's important for the court and Justices not to be swayed by trends and public opinion and those kinds of things//

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Sure. 'An uncontested result is accepted with more or less good grace. The people have spoken. But if the result is so close as to be disputed, the final outcome of the election will not be so readily accepted. Those who decide the contest with en-- inevitably be subject to criticism by the party whose candidate is the loser.'

QUESTION:

Were you writing abut 1876 still or 2000? (CHUCKLES)

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Well, I think you could say that it applies to either one. laughs)

THE DEMOCRATIC ATTACKS ON ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA FOR NOT RECUSING HIMSELF FROM A CASE INVOLVING VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY.

Rehnquist will not comment directly on the Scalia recusal because it is before the court, but he seemed implicitly to back did comment on the issue of recusal using the example of his own, monthly poker game:

QUESTION:

You have a well-known poker game--

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

Yes.

QUESTION:

--in town. If someone in your game had a case before the courts would you recuse yourself in that case or not necessarily.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

No.

QUESTION:

You wouldn't.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST:

No. If it were a regular game and that sort of thing. And the only occasion on which I saw the person was at the monthly game, no-- no, I don't think I'd recuse myself.

HE ALSO GAVE GANGEL A TOUR OF HIS CHAMBERS.... TALKING ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH PAST PRESIDENTS INCLUDING HIS REACTION TO HEARING FOR THE FIRST TIME RICHARD NIXON TALKING ABOUT HIM ON WHITE HOUSE TAPES...... AND FINALLY REHNQUIST, TURNING 80 THIS YEAR, REVEALS THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF HIS CAREER.


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