Rehnquist develops a fever, undergoes tests at Va. hospital

August 05, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has thyroid cancer, developed a fever yesterday and was taken to a Virginia hospital "for evaluation," a Supreme Court spokesman said.

He was allowed to go home after undergoing tests at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, said spokesman Ed Turner.

It was the second time this summer that the 80-year chief justice has gone to the hospital complaining of a fever. In mid-July, he was hospitalized for two days for what officials described as observation and tests.

Although a court spokeswoman played down that incident, his hospitalization set off intense speculation that the chief justice was about to retire. Two days later, on July 14, Rehnquist put out a statement to dispel "the unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement."

Since making that statement, Rehnquist has been working at the court most days and was there yesterday when he felt ill. Rather than remaining in Washington during the summer recess, in previous years he has escaped the heat and humidity at his Vermont vacation home.

But for his illness, this would have been a special summer for Rehnquist. President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, John G. Roberts Jr., was one of his law clerks during the 1981-1982 term, and the chief justice has spoken of Roberts' subsequent achievements with pride.

In 1989, Roberts argued his first case before the Supreme Court after Rehnquist asked him to represent, pro bono, a man sued by the government for filing false Medicaid claims. The lawsuit came after the man had been fined and imprisoned for the same offense.

Roberts argued that the suit amounted to "double jeopardy," and he won the case.

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