Thomas Defiant in Return to SCOTUS After Mysterious Absence

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Supreme Court of the US
via Marielam

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the Justice Department’s lawyers in his return to the bench after an unexplained absence.

Thomas is the oldest and longest-serving member of the court, which currently holds a 6-3 conservative majority. He was appointed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.

He was notably missing on Monday, when Chief Justice John Roberts announced he would not appear on the bench but would “participate fully” using written legal briefs and transcripts from the day’s arguments.

Roberts did not provide a reason for Thomas’s absence, nor did a court spokesperson, which is somewhat unusual as matters such as illnesses are typically disclosed.

Thomas returned to the bench Tuesday to hear arguments in a high-profile case.

Joseph Fischer, who was charged for his actions at the Capitol on January 6th, is arguing that the obstruction law used to condemn him was applied inappropriately and too broadly.

During oral arguments, Thomas asked Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar if “the government applied this provision to other protests in the past?”

She conceded that she could not give an example of a case where “people have violently stormed a building in order to prevent an official proceeding, a specified one, from occurring with all of the elements like intent to obstruct, knowledge of the proceeding, having the corruptly mens rea, but that’s just because I’m not aware of that circumstance ever happening prior to January 6th.”

Thomas has faced and rejected calls to recuse himself from January 6th related cases due to comments and actions made by his wife, Ginni Thomas, who lawfully attended the rally for former President Trump that proceeded the Capitol being entered.

Thomas has also rejected calls to recuse himself from Trump’s immunity appeal in an election interference case, which is set to be heard by the Court next week.

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