Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas admitted to hospital with infection

John Fritze

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas has been hospitalized for the past two days and  is being treated for an infection, court officials said Sunday.  

Thomas, the most senior associate justice on the high court, is being treated with intravenous antibiotics, the court said, and his symptoms are improving.  

The Supreme Court said Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Friday after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Court officials said Thomas expects to be released in a day or two.

Thomas did not have COVID-19, the court said.

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President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas in 1991 to fill the seat that had been held by Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall. Thomas, who is 73 and the only African American on the Supreme Court, was previously a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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Several of the justices have had health run-ins during this term, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive for COVID-19 days before the justices returned to the courtroom in the fall. In November, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch called in sick with a stomach bug.

The extent of Thomas' symptoms was not clear.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Monday. Court officials said Thomas intends to take part in considering cases through court records and recordings of oral argument for the days he cannot be there in person or remotely.

Clarence Thomas speaks on Sept. 16, 2021 at the University of Notre Dame.

Thomas, a stalwart of the court's conservative wing, celebrated his 30-year anniversary on the Supreme Court last fall. His supporters say that the 6-3 advantage conservatives now enjoy on the court has meant the high court is just beginning to catch up with some of his positions on guns, abortion and other hot-button issues.

Already one of the longest-serving justices in history, and one of its most prolific, Thomas has also become more vocal in the past few years. He abandoned his penchant for silence during oral argument when the justices switched to virtual sittings because of the pandemic and he has continued to speak up with probing questions after they returned to in-person arguments in the courtroom last year.

Today, Thomas is often the first justice to jump in with a question at argument.

Thomas was raised by his grandparents in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s. He told an audience at Harvard Law School in 2013 that his childhood friends and neighbors were "not lettered people" but "treasured education in a way that a person who was hungry would treasure food."