WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist emphatically denied that he intends to step down from the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.
In a statement issued late Thursday, Rehnquist, who is 80 and has thyroid cancer, said flatly, "I'm not about to announce my retirement."
"I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement," Rehnquist said. "I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."
In a sign that the announcement reflected a personal reaction to the rising tide of speculation, Rehnquist released the statement through his family rather than using the court's public information office.
The announcement came just hours after Rehnquist had returned home from a two-day stay at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, where he had gone Tuesday complaining of a fever.