Only six of the nine members of the Supreme Court attended President Joe Biden’s swearing-in Wednesday, the first time in more than 20 years that not all of the justices witnessed the ceremony.
Justice’s Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, the court’s three oldest, were the no-shows. “Several of the justices elected not to attend the inauguration ceremony in light of the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said in a statement.
The justices have not conducted business in person since March — holding private conferences and oral arguments via teleconference — although they gathered at a memorial service for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September.
Chief Justice John Roberts for the fourth time, administered the oath of office to the president-elect. But he has yet to see a supporter on the other side of the Bible.
President Barack Obama, whom Roberts swore in twice, voted against his confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2005. So did Biden. And President Donald Trump, to whom Roberts administered the oath in 2017, made clear during the campaign that he considered Roberts a “disaster.”
The relationship during that presidency was a rocky one, and the chief justice had the chore of presiding over Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.