The U.S. Supreme Court kicked off its new nine-month term without Clarence Thomas. The court will take up some huge cases in its new term including a massive battle over abortion.
Thomas, one of the most conservative members of the court would be sorely missed if his illness keeps him from hearing cases with the court and may hinder the conservative block from making some historical decisions as was expected.
Chief Justice Roberts said Thomas would still participate in the cases but did not comment further about Thomas’ condition. Please pray.
From Reuters: With conservative Justice Clarence Thomas absent due to an unspecified illness, the court began hearing its first argument in a case focusing on whether states can discard the so-called insanity defense in criminal prosecutions. The case involved a man sentenced to death in Kansas for fatally shooting four family members while suffering from severe depression.
In remarks from the bench before the first argument, Chief Justice John Roberts said Thomas, the court’s longest-serving justice, was “indisposed” due to illness but would still participate in deciding the three cases.
Details of Thomas’ illness were not immediately disclosed. Thomas, one of the nine-justice court’s most conservative members, is 71 and has served on the court since 1991.
In another action of note, the court said it would go ahead and hear a challenge to New York City restrictions on handgun owners transporting their firearms outside the home.
The city had argued over the summer that because the measure – challenged by gun owners and the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate – was recently amended, the case before the justices was moot and there was no reason for the Supreme Court to hear the matter.
The justices in a brief order said they would consider that argument when they hear the case on Dec. 2, leaving open the possibility they will toss the case later.
The court hears its first major case of the term on Tuesday on whether a landmark decades-old federal anti-discrimination law that bars sex discrimination in the workplace protects gay and transgender employees.