Greenhouse on Souter on Rehnquist:
In Monday's New York Times, Linda Greenhouse has a piece that includes comments from a rare interview with Justice Souter that sheds some light about the last Supreme Court term and the health of Chief Justice Rehnquist:
Justice David H. Souter said he was flabbergasted to learn of the chief justice's death. He said that while Chief Justice Rehnquist had appeared extremely weak when he returned to the bench in March after an absence of more than four months - "and I wondered whether he would be able to finish the term" - the chief justice's health had then appeared to turn around.Link via Howard.
"He had an amazing few months" and his decision at the end of the term not to retire had not seemed unreasonable, Justice Souter said.
Justice Souter, speaking by telephone from his home in New Hampshire, said there had been an "unconscious anxiety" throughout the last term, which had been under way only a month when the chief justice learned he had thyroid cancer and began intensive treatment with chemotherapy and radiation.
It was months before the other justices saw him again. Even after he returned to the court, the chief justice did not discuss his condition or prognosis with his colleagues.
Unable to take food or drink orally because of a tracheotomy - a hole in his throat that enabled him to breathe after the cancer impinged on his windpipe - the chief justice would absent himself from the justices' communal lunches and morning coffee.
"He was so unobtrusive about it, and made it easy for us," Justice Souter said. "And yet it was there all the time. It had to weigh on us."