High court confirms justices have received COVID-19 booster

The Supreme Court says all nine justices have received COVID-19 booster shots

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court says all nine justices have received COVID-19 booster shots. The court's confirmation came Tuesday amid the omicron variant surging and in-person arguments over vaccines scheduled at the court on Friday.

The court confirmed that the justices have received boosters only after The Associated Press published a story saying the high court would not say whether the justices had received a third dose of the vaccine. That story followed repeated attempts to get an answer about the shots.

The Associated Press first asked the Supreme Court via email in mid-December whether the justices had received booster shots. Three other requests via email and phone followed, the latest Tuesday. Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe had said earlier Tuesday she had no details to share. After the story was published she said that all the justices had received a booster shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late November broadened its recommendation and said that all adults should receive COVID-19 booster shots. And leaders in both parties have made public over the past several months that they have received booster shots. That includes President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as well as former president Donald Trump. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell got a booster shot the same day as Biden in September.

While the justices generally make their own decisions about when and how much health information to share, the court previously announced in March of last year that all the justices had been vaccinated.

The justices have continued through the fall to hear in-person arguments with no public allowed. In addition to the two cases the court will hear Friday, the justices are scheduled to hear another eight cases beginning Jan. 10. A number of other federal courts that, like the Supreme Court, been virtual and gone back to in-person arguments, have announced a return to virtual arguments during the omicron surge.

The justices, for their part, are tested regularly ahead of their meetings. The court has also arranged testing for lawyers present for arguments and asked journalists who are attending to have tested negative. Lawyers must be masked when they aren't arguing and court personnel and journalists also wear masks.

The justices have not been wearing masks in the courtroom with the exception of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has worn a black mask on the bench since the justices returned to in-person arguments. The 67-year-old Sotomayor has an underlying health condition. She has had diabetes since she was a child.

The CDC had in mid-November urged people 50 and older to get a booster shot. Barrett, 49, is the only justice on the court under 50 and her birthday is at the end of the month.