So much for "That's for me to know and for you to find out."
The Supreme Court issued a statement in the name of William Rehnquist Thursday night in which it quoted the chief justice as saying: "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement. I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."
How long will that be? Rehnquist didn't say, and he probably doesn't know. The chief justice is 80, suffers from thyroid cancer and just spent almost 48 hours in a Virginia hospital, where he was taken by ambulance for tests and observations related to a fever. Although Rehnquist has been on the bench of late, he spent the early part of the year away from the court as he underwent treatment for his illness.
As court watcher Lyle Denniston notes at SCOTUSblog, it's at least possible that Rehnquist's announcement is something less than it seems. "The chief justice lately has shown some mild resentment about the growing number of news camera crews staking out his home and filming his comings and goings," Denniston writes. "It is conceivable that the family decided to issue a statement about Rehnquist's intentions in order to try to end or reduce the intensity of the news stakeout."