Rehnquist's Absence To Continue

Still ailing from thyroid cancer and the aggressive treatments he has received for the disease, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will not be in attendance when the Supreme Court returns Monday from its one-month winter recess, the court announced yesterday.

"Because of continuing secretions caused by his tracheotomy and radiation therapy, Chief Justice Rehnquist will not sit on the Bench when the Court reconvenes," the court's office of public information said in a brief statement. The statement did not say whether Rehnquist would miss all five days of oral arguments slated for January, but it left open that possibility.

The chief justice will, however, participate in the court's internal discussions and vote on cases, the statement said. Court spokeswoman Kathleen L. Arberg declined to comment on whether Rehnquist's condition would affect his announced plan to administer the oath of office to President Bush on Jan. 20.

"Continuing secretions"? More here from Charles Lane of The Washington Post.