Rehnquist Lies in Repose at Supreme Court

Supreme Court justices, staff and other Americans lined up on Tuesday to pay final respects to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search).

Among the former law clerks who carried Rehnquist's flag-draped casket into the Supreme Court building was Judge John Roberts (search), who was nominated to succeed his mentor.

President Bush (search), his head bowed, and first lady Laura Bush spent about a minute standing near the casket Tuesday afternoon and a short time looking at the portrait of Rehnquist on a stand nearby. Justice Antonin Scalia escorted the couple.

On Wednesday, funeral services will be at 2 p.m. at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, open to friends and family. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney plan to attend, and Bush is to speak, along with retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Rehnquist family members.

Rehnquist's body was to lie in repose at the Supreme Court's Great Hall on the Lincoln Catafalque (search), the structure on which President Lincoln's coffin rested at the Rotunda of the Capitol, until Wednesday, when the funeral would take place. Rehnquist was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery (search).

Rehnquist, 80, died late Saturday night after a battle with thyroid cancer. He began his career as a Supreme Court justice in 1972, and became the nation's 16th chief justice in 1986.

Roberts and the seven other pallbearers bore the casket up some 40 steps of the high court to the Great Hall, where busts of former chief justices are displayed in niches and on marble pedestals along the walls.

The doors to the court chamber, where Rehnquist had served for 33 years, were open at the east end of the hall.

Lining the steps to greet the casket were six justices, including Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search), who was in tears as the casket passed by. She and Rehnquist had known each other since their law school days at Stanford University.

Absent were Justices Anthony M. Kennedy (search) and David Souter (search).

Elsewhere, official Washington reflected the loss of a Supreme Court justice with flags at half-staff. Senate leaders also announced Roberts' confirmation hearings, scheduled for Tuesday, would begin next Monday.

Roberts, 50, was originally nominated to succeed the retiring O'Connor, 75, but on Monday President Bush announced he had tapped Roberts to take the chief justice job instead. Bush pledged to name his choice for O'Connor's replacement soon, saying the field was "wide open."

It is possible but not very likely Roberts, if confirmed, will be in place as chief justice on Oct. 3, the first day the court meets this session. It is highly unlikely the second vacant slot will be filled, but O'Connor in her resignation letter said that she would stay on until a successor was confirmed.

Democrats cautioned against a rush to judgment now that Roberts is a candidate for chief justice and could shape the court for decades.

"I would hope all senators, Republicans and Democrats, would ask very substantive questions because this is, after all, a lifetime position," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

The Rev. George Evans Jr., the Rehnquist family pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Virginia, read from psalms and led the Lord's Prayer. There were audible sobs from the family.

Rehnquist's personal employees were the first to make a circle around the coffin. A stream of other court workers followed.

After the brief ceremony, a long line of people formed outside the court and people began walking inside past the coffin. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., were among those who paused before the casket.

Two sprays of flowers and a large portrait of the chief justice were on display.

After the brief ceremony, a long line of people formed outside the court and people began walking inside past the coffin of the chief justice.

Among the first was Sarah Chusid, 24, an intern at Mobilizing America's Youth, a private organization that seeks to increase the involvement of young people across the political spectrum.

Although she considers herself a liberal, Chusid said she respected the influential role that Rehnquist played on the court for more than three decades. "This is a pivotal time in the court's history; I had to come down and bear witness to this event," she said.

Rehnquist, whose brand of conservatism pushed the court to the center, was involved in two extraordinary interventions in the executive branch — the impeachment trial of President Clinton and the settlement of the 2000 election in Bush's favor. He oversaw a court that dealt with the separation of church and state, the rights of states, affirmative action, abortion and gay rights.

Public viewing was to take place until 10 p.m. on Tuesday and from 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, with funeral services open to friends and family. Bush will be a speaker.

Rehnquist was Lutheran, but his funeral will be held at a Catholic Church. Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, said Rehnquist's family had requested use of the church, primarily because of space. She said church rules allow a Catholic church to be used for other Christian services if there is a need.

Gibbs noted that Rehnquist had been to St. Matthew's many times over the years to attend the annual Red Mass, which is dedicated to judges, lawyers and others in the legal system.

"It's a church he knows and a place he's been often," she said.

Gibbs said plans call for "just a very simple Lutheran service" led by Evans.

St. Matthew's was the site of President Kennedy's funeral in 1963. The funeral of former Justice William Brennan, a Catholic, also was held there.

The Thursday burial at Arlington National Cemetery will be private. Rehnquist served as a soldier in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

The bodies of Rehnquist's two immediate predecessors, Warren E. Burger (search) and Earl Warren (search), also are buried at Arlington. Burger and Warren lay in repose in the Supreme Court Building before their services.

As chief justice, Rehnquist is entitled to a state-sponsored official funeral, a ceremony that includes a 19-gun salute, four ruffles and flourishes from drums and bugles, and the last 32 bars of the John Philip Sousa (search) march "Stars and Stripes Forever," among other military honors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.