Clarence Thomas sparks rumors with mysterious absence

 April 16, 2024

Clarence Thomas was missing from the Supreme Court on Monday, leading to speculation about his health and whereabouts.

Chief Justice John Roberts said Thomas is "not on the bench today" but would participate fully using transcripts and briefs. No reason was given for the justice's absence.

The 75-year-old is the oldest justice on the bench, and he is typically seen as the court's arch-conservative, making him a regular target of liberal backlash.

Clarence Thomas absent

Without any explanation, he returned to work on Tuesday to hear a case about January 6th.

The court's conservative justices attempted to grapple with the appropriate scope of criminal charges for "obstruction of an official proceeding," a crime that has been used against hundreds of political protesters involved with January 6th.

Thomas sparked a backlash by comparing January 6th with other "violent protests." Some said he was downplaying the event, which liberals have often compared with 9/11 and the Civil War.

"There have been many violent protests that have interfered with proceedings," Thomas said during the hearing. "Has the government applied this provision to other protests in the past?"

Thomas faces backlash

Thomas has faced recurring liberal backlash, owing to his ties to a wealthy Republican donor and his marriage to an outspoken conservative activist.

His wife Ginni Thomas has been branded an "insurrectionist" because of her role in advocating for Trump after the 2020 election. Although she played no part in any violence, Democrats have pushed for Thomas to recuse himself from January 6th cases.

Former CNN contributor Jeffrey Toobin, who lost his job in a notorious sex scandal, said it was a "disgrace" that Thomas was able to sit in during Tuesday's January 6th arguments.

What a disgrace

"In oral argument today, Justice Thomas is minimizing the severity of the 1/6 insurrection at the Capitol. Perhaps that's because his wife was part of the conspiracy. What a disgrace that he's sitting on this case," Toobin wrote.

Thomas isn't the only justice to be the target of rumors recently.

69-year-old liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been shadowed by retirement talk, with some progressives actively pushing her to step aside now to deny conservatives the chance to replace her.

Thomas was hospitalized in 2022 and treated for an infection. At the time, the court explained that he was ill.

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