- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2003

HOT SPRINGS, Va. (AP) — Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist deflected questions about his future on the Supreme Court yesterday at a judicial conference, instead focusing a morning speech on cases that have not received “riveting interest” from the public this term.

Chief Justice Rehnquist spoke for about 10 minutes about five cases the high court considered during the 2002 session that didn’t receive much attention.

“These are the Cinderella type of cases, the statutory decisions left home to clean the stove, while the constitutional cases go to the ball,” he told a crowd of about 1,000 at the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference of Virginia at the Homestead resort.

Chief Justice Rehnquist summarized lawsuits against a telemarketing firm that collected gifts for Vietnam veterans but kept most of the proceeds and a Kentucky law that required HMOs to open their plans to health care providers.

He spoke about a sexual harassment case in Las Vegas and a case about arbitration.

One case from California involved the state’s franchise tax board, which Chief Justice Rehnquist said entered a Nevada man’s apartment, rummaged through his garbage and threatened him with publicizing his private records in an attempt to get him to pay taxes on money he received after moving out of California.

“One lesson that you learn from this case is you don’t want to get crosswise with the California Franchise Tax Board,” the chief justice said with a smile.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, 78, the longest-serving member among current Supreme Court justices, with 31 years on the bench, has brushed away speculation for years that he would retire. After his speech yesterday, he wouldn’t say whether he planned to retire anytime soon.

“You’ll find out in due course,” he said.

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