Five days after Justice Clarence Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., with “flu-like symptoms,” the Supreme Court is providing no updates on his condition. For the third consecutive day, the 73-year-old justice was not on the bench when the justices heard oral argument; the court’s only comment on Thomas’ status Wednesday came from Chief Justice John Roberts, who indicated that Thomas “was unable to be present” but would nonetheless participate in the consideration and decision of Wednesday’s case based on the briefs and oral argument transcript.
The court announced on Sunday evening that Thomas had been hospitalized on Friday night and had been diagnosed with “an infection” for which he was receiving intravenous antibiotics. Thomas was “resting comfortably,” the court’s public information office indicated, and “expects to be released from the hospital in a day or two.” However, by Wednesday evening, there was no indication that Thomas had in fact been released.
The dearth of information about Thomas’ condition is not unusual. The Supreme Court often provides relatively few details about the justices’ health, to the extent that it discloses information at all. In July 2020, for example, Chief Justice John Roberts was hospitalized overnight after a fall at a Washington-area country club near his home; the court confirmed the incident only in response to an inquiry weeks later from The Washington Post, which learned about the fall from someone who saw it. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was generally more forthcoming than most of her colleagues about her health problems, but in 2020 she waited several months to disclose that she had been diagnosed with cancer again.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.