US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been hospitalized with “flu-like” symptoms and will work in absentia for several days.
In a statement, the court said Mr Thomas was taken to hospital and diagnosed with an infection.
It comes one day before the Senate begins confirmation hearings for court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Mr Thomas, 73, is the longest-serving member of the US Supreme Court and has served since 1991.
According to a statement from Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe, Mr Thomas is currently resting, although his symptoms have already begun subsiding. He is expected to be released “in a day or two”.
“Justice Thomas will participate in the consideration and discussion of any cases for which he is not present on the basis of briefs, transcripts and audio of the oral arguments,” Ms McCabe added.
Only one of the Supreme Court’s nine members, 83-year-old Stephen Breyer, is older than Mr Thomas. Mr Breyer has announced plans to retire at the end of the court’s current term later this year.
While the conservative-leaning Mr Thomas is considered extremely influential in American law, for much of his career he rarely spoke or asked questions in court and broke a 10 year silence in 2016.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, however, he has become more vocal and participates in most oral arguments.
He is currently the only black justice on the Supreme Court and was nominated by President George HW Bush in 1991 to replace Thurgood Marshall, who became the first black justice on the court in 1967.
On Monday, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Ms Jackson, a Washington DC-based federal judge nominated by President Joe Biden to replace Mr Breyer.
If confirmed, Ms Jackson will become the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.