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Chief Justice William Rehnquist returned to his home in Arlington, Va., Thursday after spending two nights in a nearby hospital for observation and tests. Ill with thyroid cancer, Rehnquist was taken to the hospital on Wednesday because of a fever. The Supreme Court offered no details about the episode or about his current condition. Rehnquist’s return home may bring an end to the latest round of speculation and anxiety about his possible retirement after 33 years on the Court. Rumors were rampant late last month that the 80-year-old Rehnquist, who has been battling cancer since last October, would retire when the Court term ended. But that day came and went, and the prospect of Rehnquist leaving was supplanted by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s surprise retirement announcement July 1. The guessing game about Rehnquist resumed last week, but petered out by Tuesday of this week as Rehnquist appeared to be carrying on and reporting to work as usual. Then came the trip to the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. “A lot of us felt there was a good chance he would leave last week, but once we got to this week the feeling was that we were back to the status quo,” said one former Rehnquist clerk who asked not to be named. Ordinarily by now, Rehnquist would be in Vermont where he has a summer home. But he has remained in the Washington, D.C., area, possibly to be near his doctors. He underwent a tracheotomy during his treatment, and that can bring infections. Also, it is not uncommon for patients who have undergone chemotherapy, as Rehnquist has, to be more susceptible to infections and fever than the general population.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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