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Justice Clarence Thomas Went to Hospital over an Infection, But He’s Doing Better Now: SCOTUS Spox

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 23: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, 73, went to the hospital with “flu-like symptoms,” and was diagnosed with an infection, a spokesperson announced on Sunday. He is now said to be doing better.

The conservative jurist’s health scare happens as right-wingers hold a solid majority on the court and President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is trying to replace retiring left-leaning Justice Stephen Breyer with nominee U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. POTUS’ party maintains the narrowest of majorities in the U.S. Senate at 50-50.

Thomas went to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C. on Friday, SCOTUS’ Office of Public Information said. He is set to keep working..

“He underwent tests, was diagnosed with an infection, and is being treated with intravenous antibiotics,” they said. “His symptoms are abating, he is resting comfortably, and he expects to be released from the hospital in a day or two. Justice Thomas will participate in the consideration and discussion of any cases for which he is not present on the basis of the briefs, transcripts, and audio of the oral arguments.”

It is a matter of course that any death or retirement from the bench becomes a huge factor in presidential politics, but the optics on the aging court have been more heated since Thomas’ late colleague, conservative jurist Antonin Scalia, died in the final year of Barack Obama‘s presidency at age 79. Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, stonewalled Obama when he nominated a successor. This gave President Donald Trump the ability to successfully nominate conservative Neil Gorsuch to the bench. Obama’s choice Merrick Garland is now U.S. Attorney General.

Trump later named Brett Kavanaugh to the bench after Anthony Kennedy, who had an ideological reputation as a “swing voter,” retired. That confirmation process, though successful, became especially ugly as psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party in the early 1980s. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal hero and Scalia’s close friend, died in the closing months of Trump’s presidency at age 87, with the Republican-controlled Senate confirming conservative nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

[Image via Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images]

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