Breyer, Sotomayor participate in Supreme Court hearing remotely

Supreme Court Justices Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerWhite House confirms Judge J. Michelle Childs under consideration for Supreme Court Photos of the Week: Breyer retirement, bridge collapse and White House cat Willow Senate panel delays confirmation hearing for circuit court nominee amid SCOTUS speculation MORE and Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorIncoming Georgetown Law administrator apologizes after backlash over Supreme Court tweets Supreme Court clears way for Alabama execution Sotomayor: It's important that Supreme Court not be seen as 'institution for entertainment' MORE participated in Tuesday’s oral arguments remotely. 

A court spokesperson said Breyer had a false positive COVID-19 rapid test Tuesday morning and participated in arguments remotely from his chambers “out of an abundance of caution.”

“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,” said court spokesperson Patricia McCabe. 


“A second rapid test was negative. Subsequently, Justice Breyer received a negative test result from a PCR administered this morning. The results of a PCR test taken by the Justice yesterday were also negative,” she added

Both Breyer, 83, and Sotomayor, 67, and three other justices are among the over-65 population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to be at risk for serious illness from the coronavirus. 

Sotomayor, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, an additional risk factor, has participated in oral arguments remotely since last week, while Tuesday’s hearing marked Breyer’s first time doing so this term.

All the justices are vaccinated against COVID-19 and have received booster shots.

Court observers noted that Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchBiden's Supreme Court choice: A political promise, but also a matter of justice Schumer finds unity moment in Supreme Court fight Manchin open to supporting Supreme Court pick more liberal than him MORE has been the only justice to appear without a mask for arguments this month. Gorsuch’s seat on the bench is immediately next to Sotomayor’s.

The justices heard arguments last week over a pair of Biden administration vaccine requirements for large swathes of the U.S. workforce. Rulings are expected soon.

Updated 3:21 p.m.