ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who has undergone treatment for thyroid cancer, died Saturday in his home in Arlington, Va., at 80.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the justice died surrounded by his three children in his Virginia home.
Last October, Rehnquist had been admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he underwent a tracheotomy in connection with his diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
Rehnquist was born in Milwaukee Oct. 1, 1924. He served in World War II with the Army Air Corps and graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. He earned a second master's degree from Harvard University before enrolling in Stanford University Law School.
He served as law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson and then entered private practice for 16 years. In 1969, President Richard M. Nixon appointed him assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice.
In 1971, Nixon nominated Rehnquist as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Rehnquist joined the court in 1972. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated him chief justice.
Rehnquist joined the liberal-moderate-conservative majority in 1997 that struck down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- which purported to prohibit government from placing a "substantial burden" on the exercise of religion -- in City of Boerne vs. Archbishop Flores.
The modern triumph of federalism began with 1995's United States vs. Lopez. In Lopez, Rehnquist wrote the 5-4 opinion that struck down a federal law outlawing firearms within a school zone. The opinion severely limited the modern understanding of congressional power under the constitution's commerce clause.
Rehnquist is survived by his three children, who were at his side when he died.