The Rehnquist Center

The William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government honors the legacy of Chief Justice Rehnquist by encouraging public understanding of the structural constitutional themes that were integral to his jurisprudence: the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government, the balance of powers between the federal and state governments and among sovereigns more generally, and judicial independence.

The non-partisan Rehnquist Center was established in 2006 at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Supreme Court exterior with cherry blossoms.jpeg

The United States Supreme Court with a cherry blossom tree in the foreground
Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Upcoming Events

2021 National Conference of Constitutional Law Scholars 
March 6, 2021
The conference creates a vibrant and useful forum for constitutional scholars to gather and exchange ideas. The third annual conference keynote lecture will be delivered by Columbia Law's Jamal Greene.
Event Details



Annual Events

National Conference of Constitutional Law Scholars

The National Conference of Constitutional Law Scholars began in 2018. The conference goal is to create a vibrant and useful forum for constitutional scholars to gather and exchange ideas.


2019 Keynote Address from University of Chicago Law School Professor David Strauss

2019 Commentators

Jessica Bulman-Pozenprofessor of law, Columbia Law School
John Harrisonprofessor of law, University of Virginia Law School
Aziz Huq, professor of law, University of Chicago Law School
Gillian Metzger,  professor of law, Columbia Law School
Victoria Nourseprofessor of law, Georgetown Law School
Bertrall Ross, professor of law, Berkeley Law School
Stephen Sachsprofessor of law, Duke Law School

2018 Commentators

Jamal Greene, professor of law, Columbia Law School
Aziz Huq, professor of law,  University of Chicago Law School
Pamela Karlan, professor of public interest law, Stanford Law School
Frank Michelman, professor emeritus, Harvard Law School
Cristina Rodriguez, professor of law, Yale Law School
Richard Primus, professor of law, University of Michigan Law
Robin West, professor of law and philosophy, Georgetown Law

Constitution Day

To celebrate Constitution Day, every September the center hosts an event to review and discuss select recent Supreme Court opinions.

Constitution Day 2018

Cases Discussed:

  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. examining the constitutionality of a Colorado civil rights law punishing a cakeshop owner for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding
  • Gill v. Whitford, examining the constitutionality of alleged partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin
  • Trump v. Hawaii, examining the constitutionality of President Trump’s “travel ban”

Panelists also discussed the legacy of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Constitution Day 2017

Constitution Day 2016

Constitution Day 2015

Constitution Day 2014

Constitution Day 2013

Constitution Day 2012

Constitution Day 2011

Constitution Day 2010

Constitution Day 2009

Constitution Day 2008

Past Conferences and Distinguished Speakers

Click below to view videos and event details

The Immigration Federalism conference took place Feb. 24, 2017.

Constitutional Dimensions
Panelists: Hiroshi Motomura, Joseph Landrau, David Rubenstein


Law Enforcement/Policing
Panelists: Dan Kanstroom, John Leavitt, Annie Lai


Tribal/State/Local Government
Panelists: Peter Spiro, Rose Cuison Villazor, Ming Chen, James Diamond


Panelists: Roxie Bacon, Dominic Draye, Michael Kagan

Video not available

"The Rehnquist Court: Ten Years Later" examined the legacy of Chief Justice Rehnquist's jurisprudence, as well as his role as head of the Third Branch.

Panel 1: Federalism
Moderator: Charles J. Cooper
Panelists: Lynn A. Baker, Eric Berger, David S. Schwartz


Panel 2: The Role of the Chief Justice
Moderator: Russell Wheeler
Panelists: Judge John D. Bates, Judge Carolyn Dineen King, Sally Rider


Panel 3: Criminal Procedure
Moderator: Marc L. Miller
Panelists: Richard D. Friedman, Alexandra Natapoff, Judge John M. Walker, Jr.


Panel 4: The First Amendment and Religion
Moderator: Toni M. Massaro
Panelists: Caroline Mala Corbin, Richard Garnett, Barry P. McDonald


William H. Rehnquist


William Rehnquist
Chief Justice William Rehnquist at a University of Arizona Law College Association event

William Hubbs Rehnquist was born Oct. 1, 1924, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of William Benjamin Rehnquist and Margery Peck Rehnquist. He attended public elementary and high schools in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. From 1943 to 1946 he served in the United States Army Air Forces and was discharged with the rank of sergeant. He received a B. A. and an M. A. from Stanford University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, in 1948. He received an M. A. from Harvard University in 1950. In 1952, he received an LL. B. from Stanford University.

After graduating from Stanford, Rehnquist served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson of the Supreme Court of the United States, from February 1952 to June 1953. Following his clerkship, he entered the private practice of law in Phoenix, Arizona, where he practiced from 1953 to 1969, with primary emphasis on civil litigation. In January 1969, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Rehnquist Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Oct. 21, 1971, President Nixon nominated him Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to replace Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan. He was confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 10, 1971, and was sworn in on Jan. 7, 1972. President Ronald Reagan nominated him Chief Justice of the United States on June 20, 1986, to replace Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. He was confirmed by the Senate on Sept. 17, 1986, and sworn in on Sept. 26, 1986.

Rehnquist was the author of four books: "The Supreme Court: How It Was, How It Is" (William Morrow, 1987); "Grand Inquests" (William Morrow, 1992); "All the Laws But One" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998); and "Centennial Crisis: The Disputed Election of 1876" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).

He was married to Natalie Cornell of San Diego, California, who died Oct. 17, 1991. They had three children: James, born 1955; Janet, born 1957; and Nancy, born 1959. Chief Justice Rehnquist died on Sept. 3, 2005, at his home in Arlington, Virginia.

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William Rehnquist being sworn in as a United States Supreme Court justice
Photograph by The White House, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

William H. Rehnquist served as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States, the 89th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the 100th Member of the Court. He was sworn in as an Associate Justice on Jan. 7, 1972 and as Chief Justice on Sept. 26, 1986. He served for 33 years and eight months on the Supreme Court, and as Chief Justice for 18 years and 11 months.

Rehnquist served with 16 other Justices during his tenure on the Court: Chief Justice Warren E. Burger; Justice William O. Douglas; Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.; Justice Potter Stewart; Justice Byron R. White; Justice Thurgood Marshall; Justice Harry A. Blackmun; Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.; Justice John Paul Stevens; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Justice Antonin Scalia; Justice Anthony M. Kennedy; Justice David H. Souter; Justice Clarence Thomas; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Justice Stephen Breyer.

He ranks fourth among the longest serving Chief Justices: (1) John Marshall (34 years, 5 months); (2) Roger Brooke Taney (28 years, 6 months); (3) Melville Fuller (21 years, 8 months); (4) William H. Rehnquist (18 years and 11 months).

Rehnquist served as a law clerk for Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson during the 1951 and 1952 terms, from Jan. 26, 1952 through July 18, 1953. From 1972 through 2005, 105 law clerks served the Chief Justice.

Rehnquist wrote 458 Opinions of the Court and Announcing Judgment; 376 dissenting opinions; 96 concurrences; 33 opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part; 37 statements and separate opinions; and 110 in Chambers opinions.


Browse the following U.S. Supreme Court opinions by Chief Justice Rehnquist:

  • Majority opinions
  • Dissenting opinions
  • Concurring opinions
  • Opinions concurring in part, dissenting in part
  • Statements and separate opinions
  • In Chambers opinions

See the full archive of Rehnquist opinions.

Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the 1980-81 McCormick Lecture at University of Arizona Law. In spring of 1989, he was the Jeanne Kiewit Taylor Visiting Professor of Law. He returned to teach a class on the U.S. Supreme Court throughout the early 1990s and 2000s.

In 1994, Chief Justice Rehnquist received the University of Arizona's Distinguished Citizen Award.

Founding Boards of the Rehnquist Center

Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Retired

Honorable Earl H. Carroll, Then-U.S. District Judge

Maureen Mahoney, Former clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist and then-partner at Latham & Watkins

Toni Massaro, Then-Dean, University of Arizona College of Law

Michael J. Meehan, Appellate attorney and former clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist

Brian Morris, Former clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist and then-Justice, Montana Supreme Court

James C. Rehnquist, Attorney and partner at Goodwin Procter

Sally M. Rider, Center Director

Honorable Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Honorable W. Scott Bales, Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court

Craig Bradley, Robert A. Lucus Professor of Law, Indiana University Law School 

Charles J. Cooper, founder and chair of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC

Richard W. Garnett, Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School

Vicki C. Jackson, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown Law School

Robert A. Katzmann, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Frederick Lambert, Professor of Law, University of California Hastings Law School

Honorable David Levi, Dean, Duke University Law School

Victoria Nourse, Burrus-Bascom Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School

Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, New York University Law School

Judith Resnick, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Robert Schapiro, Associate Dean of Faculty, Professor of Law, Emory Law School

Mark T. Stancil, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP

Barton H. Thompson Jr., Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law and Co-Director, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford Law School

Honorable J. Clifford Wallace, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Support the Center 

The Rehnquist Center is funded through grants and private donations.

Make a Secure Online Donation

The Center will send an acknowledgement of your tax-deductible gift to the address identified in your donation.

Top image: Official formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as composed under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1994 to 2005, taken in 2003. Photograph by Richard Strauss, Smithsonian Institution, Courtesy the Supreme Court of the United States

Key Contacts

Professor Andrew Coan, Center Director
(520) 621-5607

Bernadette Wilkinson, Senior Program Coordinator
(520) 626-1629