The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005)


What were some of the hallmarks of the Rehnquist Court?

Some scholars have divided the Rehnquist Court into two periods: 1986–1993 and 1994–2005. The first part of the Rehnquist Court was dominated by large turnover. During that time period, Justices Lewis Powell, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan, and Harry Blackmun all left the court. Since Stephen Breyer was appointed in 1994, the Rehnquist Court membership remained unchanged. The Rehnquist Court was generally viewed as a conservative court that emphasized, or even reintroduced, federalism—the relationship between federal and state governments—as a driving constitutional force. The Rehnquist Court was also known for the low number of cases it accepted for review.


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