Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas misses court session without explanation

WASHINGTON − Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was absent from the bench without explanation Monday when the court began its final two weeks of oral arguments for a term that is packed with consequential cases.

Chief Justice John Roberts said Thomas would participate in the two cases argued Monday by using transcripts of the arguments and the written briefs.

Neither Roberts nor the court gave a reason for Thomas' absence.

Thomas, 75, is the court's oldest member and the most senior associate justice.

He was briefly hospitalized in 2022 after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

The two cases argued before the court on Monday involved federal antibribery law and whether police can be sued if they had probable cause for some, but not all, charges that led to an arrest.

Bigger cases are on tap for this week and next.

The court will hear arguments Tuesday into whether prosecutors can charge hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants with obstruction for interrupting Congress as it certified President Joe Biden’s victory.

The case could also affect two of the four charges pending against former President Donald Trump in his federal election interference case.

The justices will hear arguments April 25 about whether former presidents are immune from criminal prosecution for acts taken while in office.

Other cases being argued next week include whether homeless people can be fined for sleeping outside and if federal law requires hospitals to provide abortions when the health of the mother is in danger.

Democrats: Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from Trump Supreme Court case

Some Democrat have called on Thomas to recuse himself from any case dealing with the 2020 election because of his wife’s political advocacy.

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas has argued repeatedly the 2020 election was stolen. She sent 29 texts to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, including “Do not concede.” She attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, but said she didn’t march to the Capitol. She told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot she still thought in September 2022 the election was stolen.

Mark Paoletta, a lawyer representing Ginni Thomas, has argued there is no reason for her husband to recuse himself because of her activities. He noted the House committee that investigated the Capitol attack never mentioned her in its 845-page report.

Previous: Amid blowback over Clarence Thomas travel, Supreme Court says it will adopt first-ever code of conduct

Thomas has also been the center of recent criticisms of the justices acceptance of expensive travel. The court announced in November it would adopt a code of conduct code of conduct after a series of stories detailing travel Thomas accepted from GOP donor Harlan Crow, as well as revelations that Justice Samuel Alito flew to Alaska for a fishing trip on a private jet in 2008 that belonged to a hedge fund manager who repeatedly brought cases before the high court.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court starts oral arguments without Justice Clarence Thomas