By Dave Andrusko
Admirers of Justice Clarence Thomas breathed a sigh of relief this morning when the Supreme Court’s public information officer said that Thomas was discharged from the hospital Friday after a stay of nearly a week. According to CBS News’ Kathryn Watson
Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on March 18 with an infection after experiencing “flu-like symptoms,” a spokesperson for the court said at the time. On Sunday, when Thomas’ hospitalization was made public, that spokesperson said he did not have COVID-19.
The court had initially said the 73-year-old justice was expected to be released from the hospital “in a day or two.” The court did not say why he remained in the hospital for a slightly longer period.
Although Justice Thomas missed three days of arguments, “Chief Justice John Roberts said he would participate in the cases using briefs the parties filed and the transcript of the arguments,” The Associated Press reported.
From the single-issue pro-life perspective, the most important case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi law which bans abortion after 15 weeks. The Court heard oral arguments on December 1 and there is widespread speculation that, a minimum, the justices will sharply curb Roe v. Wade.
One of his former clerks, Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart, argued the case.
In a speech delivered last October, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded Justice Clarence Thomas as a “legal titan” whose independence and courage are illustrated through his “jurisprudence on unborn life.”
According to the Washington Post’s Robert Barnes, Sen.McConnell “said Thomas has been steadfast whenever the issue has come before the court.”
“Every time without fail, Justice Thomas writes a separate, concise opinion to cut through the 50-year tangle of made-up tests and shifting standards and calmly reminds everybody that the whole house of cards lacks a constitutional foundation,” McConnell said to applause.
Indeed, Justice Thomas has been a persistent critic of Roe ever since former President George H.W. Bush nominated him to be on the court in 1991.
Worth noting is that if Chief Justice John Roberts is in the minority on a case, as the most senior justice, Thomas decides who writes the majority opinion.
His stay in the hospital Thomas’s hospital stay coincided with confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. If she is confirmed, Judge Jackson will succeed Justice Stephen Breyer who is retiring at the end of the court’s term this summer.