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Justices pay last respects to Rehnquist

Body lies in repose at Supreme Court; funeral set for Wednesday

From Bill Mears
CNN Washington Bureau

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Supreme Court
William H. Rehnquist

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two days of public mourning for Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist began Tuesday, as his body lay in repose at the Supreme Court.

Dignitaries who came to view the casket included President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also paid their respects.

Rehnquist died Saturday night at the age of 80 after a long battle with cancer.

His casket, a flag-draped pine box, was carried into the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning by eight pallbearers -- among them Judge John Roberts, whom President Bush has nominated to replace Rehnquist. (Full story)

Roberts, like six other pallbearers, once clerked for Rehnquist. The eighth pallbearer was James Duff, Rehnquist's former administrative assistant. (Watch the pallbearers bring the chief justice's casket into the Great Hall -- 2:50)

Pallbearer Kerri Bartlett clerked for Rehnquist in the early 1980s.

Roberts told CNN after the ceremony he planned to spend the next few days honoring the chief justice, and would attend Wednesday's funeral. His confirmation hearings begin Monday.

About 40 other people who once clerked for Rehnquist attended the ceremony as the justice's body was taken into the Supreme Court.

The coffin was carried to the Upper Great Hall, which leads to the courtroom, and was placed on a catafalque that once held the body of President Abraham Lincoln.

Once the body was brought in, the Rev. George Evans of Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in Arlington, Virginia, led a 15-minute ceremony.

All but two Supreme Court justices were present for the ceremony. Justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy were traveling, a court spokesman said. The two plan to attend Rehnquist's funeral Wednesday. (Read the justices' tributes)

Bush and his wife, Laura, arrived mid-afternoon, escorted by Justice Antonin Scalia. They stayed in public view only a few minutes, pausing to observe a portrait of Rehnquist in the Great Hall. They then went to meet privately with the late chief justice's family, as well as other justices, according to the court.

When the public was allowed in shortly after 11 a.m., several dozen people were waiting in line.

Ronald Lee, an elderly man who has long sent birthday greetings to all the Supreme Court justices, told CNN he greatly admired Rehnquist.

Lindy Orosco from California said she came to "pay my respects." She wore pins supporting President Bush and the Republican Party.

The public will be allowed to visit the body until 10 p.m. Tuesday, and again between 10 a.m. and noon Wednesday.

As a chief justice, Rehnquist would have been allowed a state funeral, but his family decided against it.

His funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at St. Matthew's Cathedral. Speakers will include the president, the White House said.

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