Alan Dershowitz, U.S. lawyer
According to the New York Times, 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 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 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 President Bush his second court opening within pour months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts. It was not immediately clear what impact Rehnquist's death would have on confirmation hearings for Roberts, scheduled to begin Tuesday.
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.