Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Dead At 80

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

September 3, 2005

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," she said.

Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1972 by President Nixon. He took his seat as an associate justice on January 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.

His death ends a remarkable 33-year Supreme Court career during which Rehnquist oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election.

The death gives President Bush his second court opening within four months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.

Rehnquist, 80 and ill with cancer, presided over President Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999, helped settle the 2000 presidential election in Bush's favor, and fashioned decisions over the years that diluted the powers of the federal government while strengthening those of the states.


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