William H. Rehnquist, the 16th Chief Justice of the United States and a leader of the court’s conservative bloc for three decades, died Saturday evening at his home in Arlington, a court spokesman announced.
Rehnquist, 80, has been undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer since October.
His death creates the first vacancy for a chief justice since 1986.
Court spokesman Kathy Arberg said Rehnquist was surrounded by his three children when he died, the Associated Press reported.
“The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days,” she said.