Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died this 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.
â€œThe 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,â€? she said.
Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1982. 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 courtâ€™s conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election.
For over 30 years there has been a Justice Rehnquist and for 19 years it’s been Chief Justice Rehnquist. The passing of William Rehnquist leaves a hole in the Supreme Court and a void in American public life that will both be hard to fill.