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FBI discloses investigation of Rehnquist confirmation witnesses

[JURIST] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website] conducted criminal background checks of adverse witnesses ahead of US Senate confirmation hearings for the late William Rehnquist [JURIST news archive] in respect of his nominations as Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court [official website] and later Chief Justice at the behest of two Republican administrations in the 1970s and 1980s, according to new documents released by the FBI. The FBI was forced to disclose the information in response to several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text; DOJ materials] requests filed by news agencies and academics after Rehnquist's death [JURIST report] in 2005.

In 1971, the Nixon administration reportedly asked the FBI to turn up information on witnesses before the US Senate [official website] who opposed Rehnquist's initial nomination to the Supreme Court, while US Department of Justice [official website] officials in the Reagan administration reportedly asked the FBI to provide similar criminal background checks on witnesses who were scheduled to testify in opposition to Rehnquist's nomination for Chief Justice in 1986. AP has more.

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