Three Supreme Court justices skip Biden inauguration due to coronavirus concerns

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Faith E. Pinho
·1 min read
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Washington , DC - January 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife U.S. First Lady-elect Jill Biden stands next to him during the 59th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. . (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Joe Biden takes the presidential oath of office from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. with his hand on a Bible held by his wife Dr. Jill Biden on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The Supreme Court's three oldest justices did not attend the Biden inauguration due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, 82; Clarence Thomas, 72, and Samuel A. Alito Jr., 70, did not join their colleagues at the Capitol for the historic day.

"They elected not to attend the inauguration ceremony in light of the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic," said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg in an email.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. carried out his duty of administering the oath of office to President Biden. Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath to Vice President Kamala Harris.

All nine Supreme Court justices typically attend inaugurations, sitting behind the outgoing administration members. Several have opted out of attending past presidents' annual State of the Union speeches. Notably, former President Trump also opted not to attend the inauguration.

The Supreme Court building has been closed to the public for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court also put a hold on receiving paper documents at the court for the last five days, "in light of security measures being implemented in connection with the upcoming Inauguration," according to the court website.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.