The Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University announced late Thursday that release of the next batch of papers in the collection of the late chief Justice William Rehnquist has been postponed from the scheduled date of Jan. 5. No explanation was given, nor any hint of when the release would be rescheduled.
The first installment of papers, 87 boxes spanning his Stanford Law School days through his early tenure on the Supreme Court, opened to the public Nov. 17. A report on what those documents revealed by Recorder colleague Dan Levine ran here on law.com.
But scholars were eagerly awaiting the next group, which includes correspondence and memoranda Rehnquist wrote and received throughout his career, as well as copies of his own opinions, and drafts and manuscripts of the four non-fiction books he wrote while on the Court.
Intriguingly, Hoover's inventory of the documents planned for release revealed Rehnquist's interest in writing fiction as well. One box was said to contain "novel notes" from 1974 to 1980, as well as a 1994 outline for Death in the Paw-Paw Tunnel, a mystery he apparently considered writing. The Paw Paw Tunnel is a canal tunnel in Maryland near Paw Paw, West Virginia.
The release set for Jan. 5 would have comprised all of the rest of the papers that can be released until another justice dies, under the rules of the collection set by the Rehnquist family. Under those rules, specific case files can only be released when all the justices serving at the time are dead. As a result, in November, case files were released from when Rehnquist joined the Court as an associate justice in 1972 until 1975, when current justice John Paul Stevens became a member of the Court.