Based on their important government status and the advanced age of some justices, all members of the U.S. Supreme Court have reportedly been fully vaccinated for months.
That did not prevent Justice Brett Kavanaugh from testing positive for COVID-19 this week, however, prompting him to isolate himself from others.
“As a precaution”
According to the Daily Wire, the announcement came in the form of a Supreme Court press release on Friday explaining why he and his wife would be absent from an upcoming ceremony.
All justices were tested on Thursday, though Kavanaugh was the only one who received a positive result. He has reportedly displayed no symptoms of the virus.
Justices were also tested ahead of a conference meeting on Monday, but all nine tested negative at that time. Kavanaugh’s wife and children, who are also fully vaccinated, all tested negative.
The court confirmed he would not be at the swearing-in ceremony for Justice Amy Coney Barrett “as a precaution.” That event had previously been postponed due to COVID-19.
Assuming Kavanaugh’s result was not a false positive, it was initially unclear where he might have contracted the virus. The Associated Press noted that he had participated in a three-mile charity run one day prior to his test.
In-person arguments resume
Somewhat ironically, Kavanaugh will be in isolation just as the court resumes in-person oral arguments for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Of course, he will still be able to participate remotely.
The hearings will be closed to the public, though live audio will be available, and all attorneys in attendance will be required to present a negative test result as well as wear a mask at all times except for when they are presenting arguments.
Although Kavanaugh is the first sitting justice to test positive for COVID-19, Barrett is believed to have contracted the virus prior to being nominated and confirmed last year.
All of the other justices were in attendance at Friday’s investiture ceremony for Barrett, which was described as a “lower-key affair” than similar events in the past.
It remains to be seen whether Kavanaugh will develop symptoms or if he will be able to rejoin his fellow justices on the bench upon the completion of his isolation.