The Supreme Court is set to return to in-person oral arguments next week for the first time since the pandemic began, but at least one of the justices will continue to participate remotely.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, The Hill reported, and thus will have to remain isolated in his home for the time being, even as he has displayed no symptoms.
Kavanaugh is fully vaccinated, as are his wife and children, and though he tested positive prior to an event formally welcoming Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the bench, none of the other justices or his family have similarly tested positive.
Kavanaugh tests positive
That information came by way of a press release from the Supreme Court, which referred to the COVID-19 tests on Thursday prior to Barrett’s investiture ceremony Friday as being “routine.”
The court further noted that all nine justices had tested negative for the virus Monday ahead of a conference meeting on the coming schedule, and were tested again ahead of Friday’s event that, obviously, Kavanaugh and his wife did not attend.
It was also noted by the court’s release that Kavanaugh has been fully vaccinated since January and reiterated that neither his fully vaccinated wife and children nor any of the other fully vaccinated justices had tested positive on Thursday.
Back to normal
The Associated Press reported that this is the first time since the pandemic began that a sitting justice has tested positive for COVID-19, though Barrett had survived a bout with the virus prior to being nominated and confirmed to the court last year.
Per recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the Supreme Court follows, Kavanaugh will isolate himself for the next 10 days, meaning he won’t be able to join his fellow jurists for their return to in-person hearings on Monday but will instead have to attend the proceedings remotely.
Those in-person oral arguments over the next three months will not be open to the public — though live broadcasts will continue — and attorneys in attendance will have to test negative and wear a mask when not presenting arguments.
How’d he catch it?
It is unclear when or where Kavanaugh may have come in contact with the virus, but the AP noted that just one day prior to testing positive the justice had participated in a three-mile annual charity run with other judges, elected officials, government workers, and journalists.
Ironically, the Friday event at the court that Kavanaugh missed due to his positive test — Barrett’s investiture, or formal swearing-in ceremony — had itself been delayed from last year until now due to the ongoing pandemic.
Aside from Kavanaugh, all of the other justices and a few guests were in attendance, and though the guests were required to wear masks, none of the justices did other than Sonia Sotomayor, who took the extra precaution of being masked due to her diabetes.