Jim Crow, From the Polling Place to the Courtroom: You've Come a Long Way, Baby!



Before William Rehnquist was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, before he betrayed his professed federalism principles by meddling with state court interpretations of state law to pick the president he preferred, he was a lawyer. But not just any lawyer! Make no mistake that on election day, William Rehnquist was a man about town!


The following excerpts are from John W. Dean's book, The Rehnquist Choice. Dean was a member of Nixon's cabinet, was Nixon's counsel in the Watergate affair, and played a prominent role in selecting Rehnquist as a Supreme Court nominee. He writes that Rehnquist was part of roving "squads" of Republican lawyers who went from precinct to precinct, confronting and harassing black and Latino voters:

"Collectively, these witnesses described 'squads,' or teams, that moved quickly from precinct to precinct to disqualify voters, confronting black and Hispanic voters standing in line at the polls by asking them questions about their qualifications, or holding up a small card with a passage from the U.S. Consitution and demanding that the voter read it aloud; also photographing people standing in line to vote."
-p. 272 (emphasis mine)

"All told, the Democrats produced fourteen people who swore they had witnessed Rehnquist challenging voters. In rebuttal, the Republicans produced eight witnesses who claimed they had not seen or heard of Rehnquist challenging voters--but none of them could testify that they were actually with Rehnquist during any entire election day, nor did their testimony cover all the elections involved in the charges...
The evidence is clear and convincing that Rehnquist was not truthful about his activities in challenging voters."
-p. 273 (emphasis mine)

To read more about Rehnquist's role in the 2000 election, check out this Vanity Fair article:
Part 1, Part 2

or this book by Alan Dershowitz.

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