U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for COVID-19 but has no symptoms, according to a court statement that said he was inducting Justice Amy Connie Barrett on Friday. Will miss the ceremony.
Kavanaugh, 56, tested positive just days before the court opened his new term and resumed oral arguments for the first time in person since he was laid off because of the pandemic.
The conservative justice appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018 has been fully vaccinated, as have the other eight justices.
Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement that all judges had tested negative at the beginning of the week.
The Supreme Court, like many places of work, operated remotely earlier in the pandemic, with oral arguments heard by teleconference and all of its decisions issued only through its website. The court building has been closed to the public for the last 18 months.
Kavanaugh is the first judge to say he has been approached by COVID-19. The court’s statement did not say whether he would participate in the oral arguments to be held next week.
The coronavirus has proven to be particularly dangerous in elderly people, especially those with underlying medical problems. Three of the nine judges are over the age of 70: Stephen Breyer, 83, Clarence Thomas, 73, and Samuel Alito, 71.
Cases the court is set to hear in the new term pose a major challenge to abortion rights, including Mississippi’s bid to revive a Republican-backed state law that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. .
The court will also weigh a challenge by the National Rifle Association banning New York state people from carrying concealed handguns in public, which could further undermine firearms control efforts nationally. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.