Chief Justice of the United States, William H Rehnquist, dies at age 80

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Saturday, September 3, 2005

Chief Justice William Rehnquist's official portrait

United States Chief Justice William Rehnquist has died of complications from thyroid cancer. He was 80. Rehnquist died surrounded by friends and family in his Arlington, Virginia home.

"President Bush and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened by the news," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett. "It's a tremendous loss for our nation."

Rehnquist's death creates a second opening in the United States Supreme Court. The first vacancy occurred when Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1, 2005, though O'Connor will remain in office until her successor has been appointed. Hearings for nominee John G. Roberts, Jr. are set to begin on Tuesday, September 6, 2005.

Rehnquist first joined the Supreme Court, the highest court in the U.S., as an Associate Justice in 1972. He was elevated to the leading position of Chief Justice in 1986 and presided over the court for the next 19 years.

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