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Denise Mackura arrived in Washington last week to watch the hearings for John Roberts Jr.’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The executive director of Ohio Right to Life, Mackura had come to see Roberts grilled over his position on Roe v. Wade, which she believes should be overturned. But with the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Mackura found herself walking up to the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where Rehnquist lay in state last Tuesday, not so much as an advocate but to pay respects to one of the justices who firmly stood behind her cause. “He backed away from [overturning] Miranda. He backed away from a lot of things,” said Mackura, a Cleveland-based attorney. “But he never backed away from [opposition to] Roe.” Across the capital last week, people paused to remember the chief justice, whose 33-year tenure on the Supreme Court left an indelible mark on the nation’s highest court, nudging it rightward with his written words and making its inner workings more efficient under his management. Along with Mackura, thousands traipsed up the stone steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday and Wednesday morning to glimpse Rehnquist’s flag-draped coffin lying in state on the catafalque, the same one where former President Abraham Lincoln once lay. Among those on the long line outside the Court waiting to see Rehnquist on Wednesday morning was Shirley Abrahamson, the chief justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. She was representing Rehnquist’s native state, she said, and also returning a favor: Rehnquist had come to Wisconsin to swear her in, in 1996. She admired his administrative abilities. “Being a chief justice, I know how important that is,” she said. Jonathan Redgrave, a partner at Jones Day, took a break from prepping for an upcoming case to bid goodbye to Rehnquist because, he said, the chief justice’s legacy offered a lesson in professionalism. “He was able to lead a Court with different views, but to lead it collegially,” he said, “and I think lawyers should learn from that.” Not every visitor was a fan of Rehnquist’s jurisprudence, however. Kenneth Bass, a one-time Supreme Court clerk for the late Justice Hugo Black and now an attorney with IP boutique Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, was one such person. “Rehnquist was not someone I agreed with on a lot of issues . . . but former clerks band together in respect for the institution.” Nancy Barness, who was visiting Washington from Minnesota for a conference with the National Association of Townships, concurred. “I’m a Court watcher, but I’m sure not a conservative,” Barness said. Still, she and a crew of nearly a dozen other Minnesotans waited in the sun Tuesday afternoon, throwing $2 bets into a pool on who would be nominated for the next Supreme Court opening based on a short list in USA Today. (She was wagering her money on a woman or a minority.) THE FUNERAL Last Wednesday, Rehnquist’s funeral at St. Matthew’s Cathedral near Dupont Circle in Northwest Washington took on a more emotional tenor. The event drew nearly 2,000 mourners, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, all eight associate justices, and several members of Congress, as well as Roberts, the man nominated to replace Rehnquist. In a private ceremony afterward, Rehnquist was buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his wife, Nan, who died in 1991. The two-hour Lutheran service was held at the Roman Catholic cathedral because of its ability to seat so many people. Rehnquist was also familiar with the cathedral — the same one where President John F. Kennedy’s funeral was held — because he attended the annual Catholic Red Mass that marks the beginning of each term of the Court. Speakers noted that Rehnquist led a balanced life, never took himself too seriously, and found time for family, travel, physical activity, and even a bit of gambling. The program was full of hymns, and the choir and attendees were expected to sing all the verses — reminding some in the audience of Rehnquist’s insistence at Court Christmas parties that all verses of carols be sung. Retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who first met Rehnquist as a Stanford University undergraduate nearly 60 years ago, said that from conversations she had had with him in recent months, he fully expected to live out the coming term of the Court. “He lost that bet,” she said sadly. The chief justice was competitive in tennis and other pursuits, said daughter Nancy Rehnquist Spears, a university teacher. “Once I started beating him, I became his doubles partner,” she said with a laugh. After her mother died, Spears said, she and her sister Janet would accompany their father to events. “Dating your father is underrated,” she said warmly. Janet Rehnquist, a partner at the law firm Venable in Washington, was in attendance but did not speak. THE SPECTATORS Outside the cathedral dozens of security personnel — including officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Supreme Court Police, the Secret Service, and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department — lined Rhode Island Avenue, which was blocked off to traffic. Hundreds of onlookers, on a lunch break or just passing by, descended around the police-imposed barricade to watch the attendees arrive at Rehnquist’s funeral. They chatted excitedly, snapping photos and straining to catch a peek at one of the dozens of dignitaries who strode up the church steps. But when the more than half-dozen black vehicles that carried the justices and family members approached the cathedral with Rehnquist’s casket, they all stood in silence. “It’s a historic occasion,” said Mark Atwood, a partner at Sher & Blackwell. It was Atwood’s first Supreme Court funeral since Justice William Douglas died 25 years earlier. But, the aviation attorney recalled, “in those days you could just walk in there.” This time, Atwood said, “I have a feeling we’re not going to get to see the people we want to, because they take them in the back door.” For many onlookers, Rehnquist’s farewell was less about his legacy than about the spectacle and the Washington-style royal treatment that characterized his memorial service. That was certainly what drew Lee Ann and John Kester, a Nebraska couple who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary by visiting the nation’s capital for the first time. The couple — he a dairy farmer and she a homemaker and part-time insurance broker — were eating lunch at the L.A. Café across the street from St. Matthew’s. “We were hoping to see the president and the motorcade. We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Lee Ann Kester, who arrived in Washington just three days before. (Bush, who entered the cathedral through an alley door, went unseen by the gathering outside.) Sitting behind the glass windows of the cafe, John Blanchfield, who works for the American Banking Association, had come prepared for the event with a pair of binoculars. He said he keeps them in his Connecticut Avenue office, part of what he calls his “personal homeland security.” But with a crowd lined along the perimeter of the police blockade, even his small black binoculars weren’t enough to get a perfect look at the spectacle. “I just didn’t know there would be so many people,” Blanchfield said.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected]. Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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