Chief Justice John Roberts announced in the morning that Thomas, 71, would not be present, saying the senior associate justice was “indisposed due to illness.”
Roberts did not provide any additional details regarding Thomas’ condition.
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently went through cancer treatment, was present and active, asking the first question during the first case of the day, Kahler v. Kansas. That case deals with the issue of whether states can eliminate the insanity defense for criminal defendants. Kansas is currently one of four states that bar defendants from claiming insanity as a defense.
The other cases of the day were Peter v. NantKwest, which deals with fee awards in patent denial challenges, and Ramos v. Louisiana, which focuses on Louisiana’s lack of a requirement for unanimous jury verdicts – the state changed the law in 2018 to require unanimous verdicts, but only in felony cases for crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2019.
Despite his absence from Monday’s arguments, Thomas is expected to participate in deciding the cases.