BREAKING: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has died

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died tonight, at home with his family. President Bush was notified just before 11pm; by 11:05 CNN had it on the air followed shortly thereafter by Fox and MSNBC. The NYT posted it at 11:18pm.

In a week dominated by Katrina, this throws a curve into the news cycle, especially since the confirmation hearings for Justice Roberts are scheduled to start on Tuesday (NB Roberts was a former clerk for Rehnquist). Now the top spot is wide open — ready to be filled by Scalia or Thomas, or, more likely, with a second Bush nominee from outside. Read more in the AP story below; get set to read a whole lot more in the coming few days.

Wow. What a week.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist Has Died, Supreme Court Spokeswoman Says [AP]