U.S. pays respect to chief justice William H. Rehnquist

William H. Rehnquist's casket was carried up the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday by former clerks including John Roberts, the man nominated to succeed him as chief justice. Official Washington began paying its last respects at the court to the nation's 16th chief justice.

Roberts and the seven other pallbearers bore the flag-draped casket up some 40 steps of the high court to the Great Hall. Rehnquist's casket was placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, the structure on which President Lincoln's coffin rested in the Rotunda of the Capitol a century and a half earlier, the AP reports.

Lining the steps were six justices, including Sandra Day O'Connor who has announced her plans to retire. She was in tears as the casket passed by. Absent were Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and David Souter.

The Rev. George Evans Jr., the Rehnquist family pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Virginia, offered a prayer. The justices, former clerks, court staff and family surrounded the casket.

Two sprays of flowers and a large portrait of the chief justice were on display.

After the brief ceremony, a long line of people formed outside the court and began walking inside past the coffin of the chief justice, who died Saturday night.

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