As Greenhouse analyzes it, it's not so much the arrival of a vigorous new man as being free of the the sickly old man:
The explanation for the court's mood is no mystery. It is relief. The justices who lived through the long year of Chief Justice Rehnquist's battle with thyroid cancer are survivors of a collective trauma, the dimensions of which are obvious only in retrospect.After a description of that "trauma," which culminates at Rehnquist's funeral, Greenhouse's article ends with these two paragraphs:
Flash forward barely two months to an ordinary argument day in the courtroom, when a light bulb above the bench suddenly exploded with a jarring bang that brought court police officers to their feet. There was a tense silence before the benign explanation became clear. It was "a trick they play on new chief justices all the time," Chief Justice Roberts commented.The NYT, perhaps, found it "unfit to print" a transition that would have connected the trauma of William Rehnquist's death to the Halloween lightbulb burst and the new Chief Justice dressed as a zany comedian. Surely, it must have been tempting to write that it was the ghost of the old Chief that burst the bulb and that the new Chief's costume speaks of lighthearted happiness, while the dying old Chief, traumatizing everyone, by contrast seemed a ghoul.
The incident occurred on Halloween, not a day when the chief justice could linger in his chambers. He had to get home, where, disguised as Groucho Marx, this father of two young children greeted the neighborhood trick-or-treaters at his front door.