WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- With the chief justice home ill and a senior justice absent, a woman justice presided over the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time in history Tuesday.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took Chief Justice William Rehnquist's role in two arguments and the release of two decisions.
Rehnquist has been working from home since late October while he battles thyroid cancer.
The Supreme Court has said he would not be on the bench over the next two weeks because of secretions caused by his treatment. Rehnquist underwent a tracheotomy, a hole cut into his windpipe, in October to relieve congestion; and he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Normally, Justice John Paul Stevens, who has been on the court since 1974, would preside in Rehnquist's absence. But problems with a flight from his home in Florida delayed his arrival in Washington.