The chief justice also appealed to Congress to better fund the federal judiciary.
Rehnquist has been absent from the bench since November, fighting thyroid cancer. However, he has been working from home, reading briefs and argument transcripts and writing and participating in decisions.
In his "2004 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary," the chief justice said, "Criticism of judges has increased dramatically in recent years, exacerbating in some respects the strained relationships between the Congress and the federal judiciary."
At the same time, Rehnquist wrote, "there have been suggestions to impeach federal judges who issue decisions regarded by some as out of the mainstream."
The chief justice rejected that approach.
"Congress's authority to impeach and remove judges should not extend to decisions from the bench," Rehnquist said. " ... Any other rule would destroy judicial independence ... "