Justice Clarence Thomas took the argument to the Supreme Court by telephone on Monday after spending nearly a week in hospital.
WASHINGTON – Justice Clarence Thomas took to the Supreme Court on Monday to argue over the phone, not in person, after nearly a week in hospital.
Chief Justice John Roberts said at the beginning of the argument that Thomas, 73, would “take part from a distance this morning” but did not elaborate.
Thomas asked a number of questions at the outset of the case argument, including one involving federal law that applies to railway workers, at one point making a resemblance to him when he drove his motor coach. Since the court’s term began in the autumn, other judges have also occasionally taken part in arguments from a distance.
Thomas missed arguments in the High Court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week when he was hospitalized. Roberts said he would take part in litigation in those days using transcripts of summaries and arguments filed by the parties.
Thomas was admitted to hospital March 18 after experiencing “flu-like symptoms” and was treated for an intravenous antibiotic infection. Thomas did not have Covid-19, the court said. He was vaccinated and given a booster shot like the rest of the court. Although the court said Thomas was expected to be released from the hospital on Monday or Tuesday, he was not released until Friday.
The court did not say why he was in the hospital longer than initially thought or what kind of infection he was being treated for.
Thomas, a Conservative and employer of former President George HW Bush, has been in court since 1991.
Because of the epidemic, the court has spent more than a year and a half hearing arguments from afar, with each judge participating over the phone. Although judges and lawyers have returned to court with the cases, it is still closed to the public.