This is a disgrace!!!!
Bush pays tribute to Rehnquist
William Rehnquist was known for his conservative views
US President George W Bush has paid tribute to William Rehnquist, the US Chief Justice who died on Saturday.
Mr Bush described Mr Rehnquist as a man of "character and dedication" whose "departure represents a great loss for our court and for our country".
Mr Rehnquist's death - months after another top judge announced her retirement - leaves Mr Bush with two vacancies to fill at the Supreme Court.
Correspondents say he faces a political battle over his choice of replacements.
Mr Bush said on Sunday that he planned to move fast to find new judges for the court. "There are now two vacancies on the Supreme Court and it will serve the best interest of the nation to fill those vacancies promptly," he said.
The job enables you to participate in some way... in the way the country is governed but you're able to maintain a private life as well
Mr Rehnquist was a powerful conservative voice in the most powerful court in the US, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale, and Mr Bush will want to replace him with someone like-minded.
He has already nominated a moderate conservative, John Roberts, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court judge who announced her retirement earlier this year.
Senators are expected to scrutinise Mr Roberts' credentials later this week as they decide whether to approve of his nomination.
The Democrats might put up a tough fight if Mr Bush were to pick another conservative for the court, our correspondent says.
Mr Rehnquist died at his Virginia home aged 80, a year after he began treatment for thyroid cancer.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said there had been a "precipitous decline" in his health over the past few days.
Although he appeared increasingly weak, and had to breathe with the help of a tube at President Bush's inauguration in January, he continued to work.
William Rehnquist administers the presidential oath to George W Bush
A frail Rehnquist presided over Bush's January 2005 inauguration
Our correspondent says Mr Rehnquist was politically attuned to Republican politics.
He championed states' rights, supported the death penalty and opposed abortion.
He was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1972, and appointed the nation's 16th chief justice by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
During a remarkable career, he oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over President Bill Clinton's impeachment hearing in 1999 and helped decide the controversial election of George W Bush as president in 2000.
He was regarded as an efficient administrator, able to work with those who did not share his views.
The nine-seat Supreme Court is one of America's most important institutions and judges are named for life.
Its key responsibilities are to examine laws and government actions to ensure they do not violate the principles laid down in the Constitution.
Its future direction is likely to be the subject of an intense battle in coming months as Democrats fight to stop President Bush giving the two seats to conservatives.
Just a "tribute"?
Rehnquist was legendary, if this is all Bush offer he might aswell keep his big filthy mouth shut.