Justice Stephen Breyer participated in Supreme Court oral arguments from his chambers instead of the courtroom Tuesday after a false positive Covid-19 test, a court spokesperson said after arguments.
“As part of routine testing, Justice Breyer took a COVID-19 rapid test this morning prior to oral argument and the result was positive. That test has now been determined to be a false positive,” the spokesperson said.
“A second rapid test was negative. Subsequently, Justice Breyer received a negative test result from a PCR administered this morning,” the spokesperson said. “The results of a PCR test taken by the Justice yesterday were also negative. Out of an abundance of caution, Justice Breyer participated in oral arguments today remotely from his chambers. Justice Breyer has been fully vaccinated, including a booster shot.”
Breyer’s remote move followed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s choice to do the same. He attended in-person arguments on Jan. 7 and Monday.
Breyer, who has faced calls from progressives to retire, is 83. Sotomayor has diabetes.
Justice Neil Gorsuch has not worn a mask at arguments this month. At arguments this week, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett took theirs off while asking questions. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan kept theirs on the entire time.
All of the justices are vaccinated and boosted, the court has said. Lawyers need to test negative before appearing for arguments in the courtroom. Two lawyers argued remotely in the Jan. 7 vaccine-mandate hearings.
--With assistance from Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson