Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies; Remains on Bench
Washington, D.C., December 3, 2005 -- Chief Justice of the United States William H. Rehnquist died yesterday evening in an incident unrelated to the many life-threatening illnesses that plagued his last years of life. Chief Justice Rehnquist served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1972, when nominated by President Nixon, until 1986, when he assumed the post of Chief Justice following President Reagan's nomination. Rehnquist will continue to serve posthumously, a move those familiar with judicial praxis describe as "highly unusual".
A tearful William August Montgomery III, who served as Clerk to Chief Justice Rehnquist from 2003 through to the incident, described the lamented patriarch's demise.
"It was a shocking freak accident, the sort of thing that you never think happens in real life. Bill likes to play pinball in chambers while he's deliberating. We had just gotten in a new machine, and he didn't think the playing field was tilted enough, so he kept pulling at it until it tipped right over and crushed him. The paramedics say he died almost instantly. His last words were 'specious argument'."
Normally, when a Supreme Court Justice dies he or she is removed from the bench. However, a little known constitutional loophole may be used in this case to keep him on despite his expiration. A spokesman for the conservative block of the court elaborated:
"The constitutional articles establishing the Supreme Court stipulate that the court will have nine members, to be nominated by the president and installed following a process of congressional review. There's nothing there that says the nine bodies have to be warm. It's certainly not our job to extend the scope of the Constitution beyond what is written there, as I think any strict constitutionalist would agree."
"To keep Rehnquist on the bench," the spokesman continued, "will spare the country the destabilizing hoopla and partisanship that often taints the nomination and confirmation process, will save time and money, and will allow us to maintain the status quo that is so vital to national security during wartime."
Chief Justice Rehnquist will thus remain Chief Justice for the indefinite future. The Court has not yet clarified the technical details of his continuing service, such as whether the embalmed corpse will be clad in robes and propped on the bench, or whether a smaller portion of the Justice, such as his preserved head, will be used as a metonymic substitute.
Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas will be the designated interpreters of the Chief Justice's arguments and rulings, which they will elicit with the aide of a spirit guide.
"They've voted as a block on every ruling so far," the spokesman continued, "so we feel they will be best suited to the job. Actually, having all three is pretty much redundant. It's really just a question of body count."
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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