WASHINGTON — A Phoenix area home owned by Supreme Court Chief Justice-designate William H. Rehnquist for eight years in the 1960s had a restrictive deed that barred its sale to anyone but whites, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said today on the third day of Rehnquist's confirmation hearing.
The disclosure came a day after it was revealed that Rehnquist's summer home in Vermont has a restrictive deed barring the land's sale to Jews.
Today's development sparked a heated exchange between Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who termed "ridiculous" Kennedy's claim that the existence of the Phoenix deed is related to Rehnquist's views on civil rights.
Rehnquist is seeking Senate confirmation as the nation's 16th chief justice.
As Rehnquist began a second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kennedy referred to the Maricopa County deed's wording that it could not be sold or leased "to any person not of the white or Caucasian race."
'Has No Legal Effect'
Rehnquist told Kennedy that he had not known about the deed's wording.
"I simply can't answer whether I read through the deed or not," Rehnquist said. "While very offensive, it has no legal effect."
Hatch accused Kennedy of introducing a "red herring" into the proceedings, and charged that the news media have "blown out of proportion" Wednesday's disclosure about the Vermont deed.
"You know it's ridiculous, I know it's ridiculous," Hatch said in a loud voice directed at Kennedy while the committee chairman, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), called for order.
Earlier today, Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) told Rehnquist that he was concerned about "your credibility, the honesty of your representations to this body in 1971 and at the present time as well."
Metzenbaum said he doubted that Rehnquist had been completely candid in his testimony on three issues:
--His role as a political operative in local Arizona elections two decades ago.
--His role as a Supreme Court law clerk in the 1950s in writing a memorandum supporting racial segregation.
--And Rehnquist's assertion that he was unaware until days ago that a property deed for his summer home in Vermont prohibits sale of the land to Jews.
Rehnquist had been questioned at length on those issues Wednesday. He had also been questioned about his elections role and tenure as a law clerk before his confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1971.
50 More Witnesses Slated
Rehnquist sat through more than five hours of Senate Judiciary Committee questioning Wednesday, remaining unapologetic about his staunch conservatism.
His testimony was to be followed today by about 50 other witnesses in what was likely to be a long day of proceedings. Thurmond said he was prepared to preside over a marathon session today so the hearings that began Tuesday could be concluded by midday Friday.
In his Wednesday appearance, Rehnquist weathered intensive questioning from Kennedy over allegations he harassed and intimidated black and Latino voters in Phoenix in the early 1960s as part of a state Republican Party ballot-security program. (Story on Page 14.)
Ten witnesses who Democrats say are ready to testify they saw Rehnquist try to intimidate minority voters are scheduled to appear before the committee Friday.