Chief Justice John Roberts Briefly Hospitalized in June

July 8, 2020 by Dan McCue
Chief Justice John Roberts arrives for the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – Chief Justice John Roberts spent a night in the hospital last month after he fell and injured his forehead while walking for exercise near his home, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said Tuesday night.

According to court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg, Roberts’ injuries required sutures and he stayed in the hospital overnight out of an abundance of caution.

The Chief Justice’s injury and hospitalization on June 21 were first reported by The Washington Post, which said it learned of the events through a news tip.

The newspaper said the fall happened at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland.

The fall took place three days after the court grabbed headlines with a 5-4 decision written by Roberts rejecting President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants.

Roberts has twice experienced seizures that caused him to fall, in 1993 and again in 2007, though Arberg said doctors ruled out that possibility in his latest fall.

The medical staff at the hospital concluded the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration, she said.

Roberts last seizure occurred in July 2007 while he was visiting his vacation home in Maine.

In that incident, he reportedly fell from a dock after experiencing what the court described as a “benign idiopathic seizure” — in short a seizure for which a cause could not be identified.

As in the case of his latest fall, Roberts rebounded immediately and spent only a night in a hospital for observation.

A thorough neurological evaluation “revealed no cause for concern,” Arberg said at the time.

During Roberts’ confirmation hearings in 2005, several news organizations reported he suffered a 1993 seizure while golfing.  For a time after that incident, he reportedly took a bus to work.

The event did not become an issue during the hearings and Roberts was confirmed by the Senate as the 17th Chief Justice by a 78–22 vote on Sept. 29, 2005.

Roberts himself has not commented on his June hospitalization. The nine members of the court generally decide for themselves how much information to release about their health, though during the coronavirus outbreak — an event that forced the justices to hear arguments  by telephone —  Arberg regularly confirmed they are all in good health.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to release another round of opinions Wednesday morning. Five cases remain before the court is expected to take its summer break.

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