Mulhauser on Rehnquist:
Over at the New Republic Online, Dana Mulhauser has a rather odd article on Chief Justice Rehnquist that manages to paint Rehnquist as egotistical and self-important without offering any real evidence to back up the claim. The article is mostly about Mulhauser's failed effort to write another article that is not directly about Rehnquist, but Mulhauser manages to turn that unrelated experience into speculation that Rehnquist has not yet announced his resignation because Rehnquist revels in the power of being the Chief Justice:
  Rehnquist knows his place in the world, and he revels in it. Which is not to say that a resignation might not be forthcoming today, tomorrow, or next week. But when retirement does call, Rehnquist will be fighting it all the way. This is not a man with any desire to rush from the limelight. This is a man who is Number One--and wants to make sure you know it.
  The Chief Justiceship of the United States is kind of a cool job, and my sense is that most people who have had the job weren't eager to leave it. But what's the evidence that Rehnquist "is a man who is Number One--and wants to make sure you know it"? Well, the main evidence Mulhauser offers is that we know Rehnquist graduated first in his class from Stanford Law School, even though Stanford did not publish class rankings. According to Mulhauser, this is likely evidence that Rehnquist "spread the word" so everyone would know how smart he is:
  In all likelihood, the only people with the knowledge and incentive to keep track of the rankings were the future justices themselves. If we know that Rehnquist was Number One and O'Connor was Number Three, then it is probably because they have spread the word.
  There's a different and more likely explanation for why we know this, however. According to John Dean's book about the Rehnquist nomination, The Rehnquist Choice, Rehnquist was nominated after President Nixon had floated a series of names that had been shot down as mediocrities. Nixon decided that he needed to find someone who everyone agreed was brilliant. Nixon was impressed with Rehnquist in large part because Rehnquist had clerked for the great Justice Robert H. Jackson and was at the top of his class at Stanford Law.

  When considering whether to nominate Rehnquist, Nixon specifically instructed his staff to find out whether Rehnquist had been #1 in his class or merely #2 or #3. Although it seems strange to modern ears, Nixon apparently thought it would be a significant political selling point if Rehqnuist had been #1 in his Stanford class. When Nixon announced the Rehnquist nomination, he made a big deal about how Rehnquist was #1 in his law school class at Stanford.

  Maybe Rehnquist bragged about being #1 in his class before his nomination to the Court. But I doubt it. The more likely explanation is that the one who needed to brag about Rehnquist's law school class rank was Nixon, not Rehnquist.