WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is fighting cancer, returned to the U.S. Supreme Court bench Monday morning after a long absence.
Rehnquist has been absent from the bench since late October, when it was announced he had thyroid cancer. Also in late October, Rehnquist underwent a tracheotomy at a Washington-area hospital to relieve the symptoms of his therapy, which included chemotherapy and radiation.
Since then he has worked on cases from home, reading transcripts of arguments and briefs.
The 80-year-old Rehnquist was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. President Ronald Reagan promoted him to chief justice in 1986.
The chief justice is one of three consistently conservative votes on the closely divided high court, which also consists of two moderate conservative justices and four consistently liberal justices.
There was no announcement from the court about Rehnquist's prognosis.