Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participates in hearings by phone after release from hospital

73-year-old planning on taking part in decisions of cases he missed arguments for while away

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 28 March 2022 21:31
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Released From Hospital

Following his release from hospital, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took part in hearings by phone.

After spending almost a week in hospital, Justice Thomas was yet again involved in court proceedings on Monday.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that Justice Thomas, 73, was going to be “participating remotely this morning”. He didn’t specify a reason.

Justice Thomas could be heard clearly as he asked questions during the arguments concerning a federal law intended to protect railroad staff.

He made an analogy to driving his 40-foot long motorhome, saying “some of this seems a little bit counterintuitive and I admit to being a little bit wrapped around the axle”, prompting smiles from some of his colleagues.

Justice Roberts said that Justice Thomas is planning on taking part in the decisions of the cases he missed the arguments for while in hospital.

Justice Thomas was admitted to hospital on 18 March with “flu-like symptoms”. He was treated for an infection with intravenous antibiotics. The court noted that he didn’t have Covid-19. All nine justices have been fully vaccinated and they have received boosters.

Justice Thomas was expected to leave the hospital on Tuesday, but he ended up staying until Friday. It remains unclear why he stayed longer than expected.

He has been on the court since 1991 after being nominated by President George HW Bush.

Other members of the court have also worked remotely during the pandemic. Justice Brett Kavanaugh worked from home when he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this term. Justice Sonia Sotomayor took part in proceedings from her office when the number of Covid-19 cases was high. Justice Neil Gorsuch worked remotely after catching what the court said was a “stomach bug”.

All the justices heard cases remotely for more than a year and a half during the pandemic. The justices are now back in the courtroom, but it’s still closed to members of the public, but masks are now optional for reporters and lawyers who have tested negative for Covid-19.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett didn’t take part in the cases deliberated on Monday as she had been involved at earlier stages while serving as a federal appeals court judge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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