Thursday, September 8, 2005
The book, "The Rehnquist Legacy," is the first legal biography of the chief justice and will be published by Cambridge Press early next year. Tomkovicz and 16 other legal scholars examine Rehnquist's impact on a variety of constitutional issues, including abortion, affirmative action, free speech, search and seizure, Miranda rights and the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Tomkovicz said the book's publication had been in the works for several years, long before Rehnquist's recent death.
Tomkovicz, an expert in criminal procedure and the right of the accused to the assistance of counsel, is writing a chapter examining Rehnquist's impact on that right, entitled "Against the Tide: Rehnquist's Efforts to Curtail Expansion of the Right to Counsel." Since Rehnquist served 33 years as an Associate and, later, Chief Justice, his jurisprudence is significant, Tomkovicz said.
"Chief Justice Rehnquist was enormously successful in imposing his restrictive views regarding the scope of the rights of indigent defendants to have appointed, government-funded defense counsel for trial and for appealing convictions," Tomkovicz said. He pointed to opinions that Rehnquist wrote that declared that indigents accused of misdemeanors have no entitlement to appointed counsel unless they are sentenced to prison; that uncounseled convictions that do not result in imprisonment initially may be used later to enhance prison sentences for other offenses; and that the right to appointed counsel may be restricted during the appeal process.
Tomkovicz added that Rehnquist was not successful in persuading his colleagues to adopt his narrow position concerning the right of all defendants to have counsel aid them when the government seeks to obtain confessions before trial.
"Rehnquist's views regarding counsel reflect a genuinely conservative approach, one that was hostile to expansion of a vital constitutional guarantee that had a centuries-long history of expansion," Tomkovicz said. "His interpretations typically are concerned with the legitimate financial and other interests of states and strike a balance favoring those interests. During his time on the Court, no Justice demonstrated a more restrictive understanding of the right to the assistance of counsel than Chief Justice Rehnquist. His impact in this area is likely to be felt for many, many years to come."
Tomkovicz will also participate at a conference examining Rehnquists's legacy in April at the Indiana University School of Law.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.
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