Sunday, September 04, 2005

US Chief Justice Dies

US Chief Justice Rehnquist dies from cancer

Maxim Kniazkov
Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON--William Rehnquist, chief justice and a leading conservative voice on the US Supreme Court, died Saturday after losing a battle with thyroid cancer, setting up a new political battle for President George W. Bush over the makeup of the judiciary.

Rehnquist, the 16th chief justice of the United States, "died this evening at his home in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by his three children," the court said in a statement.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in October but had kept working up to the final days of his life.

The news was delivered to Bush shortly late Saturday night, the White House said.

"The president and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened at the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist," spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said. "His family is in their thoughts and prayers." The president was to make a formal comment on Sunday.

Coming on the heels of the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in July, Rehnquist's death broadens the political fight over the makeup of the Supreme Court, which plays a key role in shaping America's political and social landscape.

Conservative federal appeals court judge John Roberts has been named by Bush to replace O'Connor.

But although his initial reception on Capital Hill was positive, Roberts is expected to face a tough confirmation hearing, during which his positions on issues ranging from abortion to the role of government will be closely scrutinized.

The Congress hearings are scheduled to start this week.

Rehnquist's passing means the president will have wage a second major political battle over a successor, who is likely to be a social conservative like Rehnquist.

The most mentioned name to become chief justice is Antonin Scalia, a pillar of the Supreme Court's conservative faction.

Rehnquist had been in and out of hospital ever since his condition was diagnosed. But with rumors about his retirement swirling, Renhquist moved forcefully to quash them in July, insisting he would not retire and that he intended to "continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."

Rehnquist was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 1971 by President Richard Nixon and took his seat on January 7, 1972.

He was elevated to chief justice by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Rehnquist was a strong opponent of abortion, gay rights, gun control, and affirmative action for minorities.

A fierce defender of the death penalty, Rehnquist often wrote a divergent opinion when in a minority of one, earning himself the title "Lone Ranger."

Rehnquist was one of two dissenters in the key Roe vs Wade case in 1973 which recognized abortion as a constitutional right.

In 1995, he wrote the majority opinion striking down a federal law ordering a "gun-free zone" around state schools, in a landmark decision preserving the rights of individual states.

In 1999, he presided over the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in the Senate over accusations that he lied about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

A year later, Rehnquist and four other Republican-nominated justices, ordered the end of the presidential election ballot recount in Florida, giving the presidency to George W. Bush.

Born October 1, 1924, William Hubbs Rehnquist grew up in Shorewood, in the midwestern state of Wisconsin.

The son of an affluent wholesale paper salesman, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and served in North Africa. Upon his return to the United States, he earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in political science from Stanford University in California.

Rehnquist attended Harvard University for a year and earned another master's degree before returning to Stanford to study law. He graduated in 1952 at the top of his class.

The former chief justice is survived by his three children: Janet Rehnquist, James Rehnquist and Nancy Spears as well as his sister, Jean Larin. His wife, Natalie Rehnquist, died in 1991.

Unity At Last?

Posted by Alecks Pabico 

prayer-gathering.jpgOUT of tonight's inter-faith prayer gathering called by the De La Salle Brothers at the school's Greenhills campus, a broad coalition of mass movements, political parties, civil society organizations and religious groups invariably clamoring for Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's resignation, impeachment and ouster has been formalized, all uniting under the banner of truth.

Calling themselves Bukluran sa Katotohanan (Coalition for the Truth), a name unanimously adopted from the theme of the event, the new movement significantly unites disparate groups that have not come together until this evening, as well as brings the so-called "middle forces" (students, professionals, the business sector) into the fold of the Arroyo resign-impeach-ouster (RIO) campaign.

"Our unity is anchored on principles and our aspirations for change, a change that is in turn anchored on the clamor for the truth," said Rep. Etta Rosales of the Akbayan party list.

The occasion marked the first public appearance together of former Pres. Corazon Aquino and Susan Roces, widow of Fernando Poe Jr., the opposition's presidential candidate in the 2004 elections.

Addressing the crowd who came to listen to the Catholic mass and the Christian and Muslim (Duwa'a) service, Mrs. Aquino, now 72, vowed to give whatever she can to the campaign for the truth.

"Pasensya na po kayo dito sa matanda niyong kababayan. Akala ko ay maaari na akong magpahinga. Pero siguro ganyan talaga ang buhay. At ako naman, habang kaya ko pa ay iaalay ko ang lahat nang aking makakaya para sa inyo, " she said.

For the first time, too, the key personalities in the RIO campaign have come out in public together. Aside from the country's two most famous widows, also in attendance were 26 of the pro-impeachment congressmen who received the loudest and longest applause of the evening; Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas; three of the resigned Cabinet members who came to be known as the "Hyatt 10"; former senators Wigberto "Bobby" Tañada and Leticia Ramos-Shahani; Reporma's Renato de Villa and Frank Chavez; Mayors Jejomar Binay and JV Ejercito of the United Opposition; and leaders of recently launched mass formations like the Laban ng Masa, Black and White Movement, White Ribbon Movement, Unity for Truth and Justice, and the Gloria Step Down Movement.

Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna party-list representative, however, said that the coalition's message is still muted.

"Tonight, prayer is the main expression. What remains to be seen is the unified call for protest actions in a more dramatic way," said Ocampo, though he disclosed that the different groups are now in talks.

But do expect the coalition's initial show of force next week in anticipation of Tuesday's plenary vote on the House justice committee's decision to throw out all the impeachment complaints against Arroyo last Friday.

"And if they will kill the impeachment," Rosales said, "we hope it will be the signal for the people to come out and join us in waving the banner of truth."  

Following are excerpts of Mrs. Aquino's brief remarks:

Unang-una, nais kong magpasalamat kay Bro. Armin (Luistro) for organizing this event.

Salamat din kay Bishop (Antonio) Tobias for the mass and all the priests.

Salamat sa inyong lahat. Salamat din kay Susan at narito siya ngayon upang makiisa sa atin.

Ito po ang kauna-unahang pagkakataon na makunan kami ng litrato ni Susan. Nagkita na po kami noong ibang araw pero private lamang po iyon. Pero ngayon siguro ay nararapat na nga na magkaisa tayong lahat upang manalangin sa panginoong diyos na ibigay sa atin ang katotohanan.

Salamat din sa Hyatt 10…At salamat sa ating mga congressmen…Ang hanap natin ay 79 at balita ko ay nadagdagan na dahil si Congressman (Antonino) Roman ay narito na rin…

Ano ba ang kailangang gawin para dumami kayo at para makamit natin ang katotohanan na hinahanap natin?

Kanina naisip ko na kung minsan matagal ang pagsagot sa aking panalangin. Alam po ninyo noong 1972, panahon ng martial law, ang aking panalangin palagi sa Diyos, kung maaari po sana i-release na lang Niyo si Ninoy.

Naghintay po kami nang matagal. Nakita ko nga rito si Rita Rodrigo Sevilla, na kasama ng daddy niya si Ninoy. Nandito rin si Bobby Tañada na katulong namin at katulong natin ang kanyang magiting na ama.

Noong 1975, nag-hunger strike si Ninoy for 40 days. Tapos 1978 sumali ang laban at katakot-takot ang dayaan noon, at talo silang lahat. Inisip ko nga, wala na bang katapusan ito? Kailan kaya sasagutin ng Panginoong Diyos ang aking panalangin?

But God does work in mysterious ways. And in 1980, Ninoy suffered a heart attack. And it was that heart attack which gave us the passport to freedom.

Kaya kung minsan po hindi natin naiintindihan, bakit natatagalan ang paggsagot sa ating panalangin. Katulad po nang nangyari sa ating Batasan Tuesday. Nag-walk out. At inisip natin, ano ba ito? Wala na tayong pag-asa?

But because of that walkout, I think, Bro. Armin, you were  inspired to call all of us together to pray. So let us continue to pray for each other, to support each other. I am sure that if more and more of us pray and ask the Lord to bring us closer to the truth, He will do that and he will grant us not only 79, but more than 79, although  we will be happy with 79.

So maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Pasensya na po kayo dito sa matanda niyong kababayan. Akala ko ay maaari na akong magpahinga. Pero siguro ganyan talaga ang buhay. At ako naman, habang kaya ko pa ay iaalay ko ang lahat nang aking makakaya para sa inyo.

Maraming salamat.