Supreme Court Declines to Share Update on Clarence Thomas' Hospitalization for 'Flu-Like Symptoms'

·3 min read
Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas

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The Supreme Court is staying mum — at least for the moment — about Justice Clarence Thomas' health after he was hospitalized last week and has since missed three days of oral arguments.

Chief Justice John Roberts said on Wednesday that Thomas, 73, was "unable to be present today" but would participate in the case by reviewing the arguments' transcript and briefs, according to the Associated Press.

Thomas had been expected to be released from Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday after experiencing "flu-like symptoms" and being diagnosed with an infection, the court said in a press release on Sunday. He first entered the hospital on Friday.

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Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe declined on Wednesday to provide an update on Thomas' condition to the AP and CNN. McCabe likewise did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The court said Sunday that Thomas' symptoms had been "abating."

Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas

ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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"He underwent tests, was diagnosed with an infection, and is being treated with intravenous antibiotics," the court said then. "His symptoms are abating, he is resting comfortably, and he expects to be released from the hospital in a day or two."

"It is not COVID related. The Justice does not have COVID," a court spokesperson told CNN.

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His absence comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee separately holds confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom President Joe Biden nominated to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991 by then-President George H. W. Bush and succeeded the liberal-leaning Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Thomas' confirmation was quickly clouded by controversy when Anita Hill, a former aide to Thomas, testified that she had been sexually harassed by him. Thomas adamantly denied the allegations and referred to the resulting hearings as "a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."

He was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 vote.

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Since joining the high court, Thomas has often sided with his fellow conservatives, opposing decisions in favor of affirmative action and dissenting from the decisions to uphold the federal tax subsidies of the Affordable Care Act and the constitutional right of gay couples to get married.

He was as an assistant to Missouri Attorney General John Danforth and a lawyer for the agricultural company Monsanto before moving to D.C.

President Ronald Reagan appointed Thomas to several positions, including the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982. Bush later nominated him to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

He published a 2007 memoir, My Grandfather's Son.