Chief Justice William Rehnquist was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this week. Doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland inserted a tube into his throat to make it easier for him to breathe, but officials declined to say whether he was being treated with surgery or radiation. Thyroid cancer has a 90 percent cure rate, and a Supreme Court spokesman said Rehnquist, the court’s leading conservative for decades, would return to work Nov. 1. News of Rehnquist’s illness fueled speculation about how the court might change after the Nov. 2 presidential election. All the justices except Clarence Thomas are over 65, and the next president may get to appoint several members to the closely divided nine-member court.
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