WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who missed the Supreme Court's November argument session while being treated for thyroid cancer, will be absent for the December session as well, the court announced on Friday.
Kathleen Arberg, the court's public information officer, said Chief Justice Rehnquist was continuing to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments as an outpatient and was meeting with his law clerks and court officials at his home. Ms. Arberg said she had no information on when the 80-year-old chief justice might return to the court.
Given the apparent seriousness of his illness, there has been widespread speculation that the chief justice will announce his retirement sometime this winter. Jan. 7 will mark his 33rd anniversary on the court.
It's clearly time for the Chief Justice to retire. Because Supreme Court justices serve for life, it is their responsibility to step down when their health and age prevents them from working at their full capacity.
I would like to see Justice Thomas elevated to be Chief Justice, and former solicitor general Ted Olsen nominated to replace Justice Thomas.