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Funeral Services Held for US Chief Justice


A private funeral service was held Wednesday for William Rehnquist, the chief justice of the United States. President Bush was among the speakers.

The president remembered the 16th chief justice as a man of integrity, who brought a sense of duty to every task put before him.

He said William Rehnquist was a steady, guiding presence throughout his more than three decades on the court and earned a place among America's greatest chief justices.

The president spoke before hundreds of mourners at Washington's St. Matthew's Cathedral. They included the Rehnquist family, friends, members of Congress, Supreme Court staff and the eight remaining justices.

William Rehnquist was a Lutheran, but had a fondness for the cathedral where a special mass was said each year for members of the judiciary. Roman Catholic leaders offered the use of the historic church because of its ability to handle the large crowd.

At the request of the Rehnquist family, cameras and broadcast microphones were barred from St. Matthew's so they could mourn in private.

But before the service, the public got a chance to pay its last respects at the Supreme Court building, where hundreds filed past the coffin of the chief justice. Across the street, in the U.S. Capitol, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, eulogized his friend.

"This is a man of tremendous, inestimable talent, intellect and ability. But he was warm. He was kind. He was decent," said Mr. Hatch.

Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, also paused in the Senate chamber to remember William Rehnquist, who died Saturday after a battle with cancer.

"He demonstrated great personal strength and courage in leading the court and this country through difficult and contentious times and continuing his work in the face of daunting health problems that would have set most of us on our backs and certainly far out of the courtroom," said Mr. Carper.

On Monday, the Senate will begin confirmation hearings for the man President Bush has chosen to succeed William Rehnquist, Judge John Roberts.