Justice Thomas participates in arguments remotely after lengthy hospital stay

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Justice Clarence Thomas engaged in arguments remotely via telephone Monday following a week-long hospital stay due to “flu-like symptoms”. 

Chief Justice John Roberts made the announcement prior to starting arguments, stating that Thomas, 73, would be “participating remotely this morning.” The Chief Justice also stated Thomas intended on partaking in decisions despite missing three days of arguments a week prior.  

Thomas asked several questions during arguments regarding a federal law aimed to protect railroad workers, making analogies and puns. 

“Some of this seems a little bit counterintuitive and I admit to being a little bit wrapped around the axle,” Thomas said during arguments. 

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on March 18, according to a press release by the Supreme Court. Thomas underwent several tests and was diagnosed with an infection; he did not test positive for COVID-19. 

The court said Thomas was being treated with intravenous antibiotics. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday, despite expectations of a Tuesday release date. Details regarding his elongated stay have not been released. 

Thomas has served on the court since 1991, since his appointment under George H.W. Bush. 

Thomas is the second justice to serve remotely this term, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh participating remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 in October 2021. 

The court continues to be closed to the public, with only justices and lawyers able to go into the courtroom. Mask-wearing is optional for reporters and lawyers who have previously tested negative for COVID-19. 

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