Supreme Court

Lock Up De Judge

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ABC reports:

The FBI's file on former Chief Justice William Rehnquist made public more than a year after his death indicates the Nixon and Reagan administrations enlisted its help in blunting criticism of him during confirmation hearings.

The file also offers insight into the hallucinations and other symptoms of withdrawal that Rehnquist suffered when he was taken off a prescription painkiller in 1981. A doctor was cited as saying that Rehnquist, an associate justice of the Supreme Court at the time, tried to escape the hospital in his pajamas and imagined that the CIA was plotting against him.

The most enticing tidbit in the files:

In one previously secret memo from 1971, an FBI official wrote, "No persons interviewed during our current or 1969 investigation furnished information bearing adversely on Rehnquist's morals or professional integrity; however …" The next third of the page is blacked out, under the disclosure law's exception for matters of national security.

Elsewhere in Reason: In 2005 I interviewed the historian David J. Garrow about the long history of incapacitated justices sitting on the Supreme Court bench. At one point he bemoaned the fact that "in all the coverage of the chief justice's thyroid cancer battle, there's been virtually no mention of his disability in the early '80s, his excessive dependence on pain medication for his longtime back ailment."