Brett Kavanaugh Tests Positive for COVID-19 in Breakthrough Case but Isn't Showing Symptoms

The Supreme Court justice has been fully vaccinated since January, a spokesperson said

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Brett Kavanaugh. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive this week for COVID-19, the high court announced Friday morning.

The statement added that Kavanaugh, 56, has been fully vaccinated since January and is not showing symptoms from his breakthrough case.

"On Thursday, per the Court's regular testing protocols, Justice Kavanaugh had a routine Covid test ahead of Justice Barrett's investiture on Friday," the court's statement read. "On Thursday evening, Justice Kavanaugh was informed that he had tested positive for Covid-19. He has no symptoms and has been fully vaccinated since January."

The statement added that, "per current Court testing protocols, all of the Justices were tested Monday morning prior to conference, and all tested negative, including Justice Kavanaugh."

Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are rare but possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100 percent effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99 percent — are in unvaccinated people.

Kavanaugh's wife and daughters, whom the court says are also fully vaccinated, tested negative on Thursday.

As a precaution, however, the Supreme Court said that Kavanaugh and his wife would not attend an investiture for the newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, scheduled for Friday morning.

Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh. Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

Kavanaugh, a Bethesda, Maryland-native with deep Republican ties, replaced retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He was former President Donald Trump's second high-court pick after Neil Gorsuch was nominated in 2017 to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia following the latter's death. (Scalia's seat had been held open by Senate Republicans under President Barack Obama in a highly controversial break with tradition.)

Kavanaugh's confirmation was mired in its own controversy in the wake of several sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s and 1990s — all of which he stridently denied.

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor, was the first woman to come forward and emotionally testified at his confirmation hearing, describing being sexually assaulted by him when she was 15 and he was 17.

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Brett Kavanaugh. Win McNamee/Getty

In an earlier interview with The Washington Post, Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down to a bed, groping her and trying to remove her clothes at a high school party in the early 1980s.

In his own testimony at the hearing, Kavanaugh said he had not assaulted Ford: "I'm not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time, but I have never done this to her or to anyone."

He described the claims against him as an "orchestrated political hit."

"This has destroyed my family and my good name," he said.

After a razor-thin confirmation vote, Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice in October 2018.

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