Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suffered a fall at a Maryland country club last month that required an overnight stay in the hospital, a Supreme Court spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night.
Roberts has twice experienced seizures, in 1993 and in 2007, but Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said doctors ruled out that possibility in the latest incident. Doctors believe he was dehydrated, she said.
Roberts did not publicly disclose the matter, and the court’s confirmation came in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post, which received a tip.
The scene was apparently witnessed by some at the club, whose list of politically connected members includes another justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh. The person who told The Post about the incident said Roberts’s head was covered in blood.
The statement from Arberg said: “The Chief Justice was treated at a hospital on June 21 for an injury to his forehead sustained in a fall while walking for exercise near his home. The injury required sutures, and out of an abundance of caution, he stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged the next morning. His doctors ruled out a seizure. They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration.”
The statement did not address why Roberts had not disclosed his hospitalization.
Roberts suffered a seizure in July 2007 at his vacation home in Maine. He fell from a dock after experiencing what the court described as a “benign idiopathic seizure.” That means there was no easily identifiable cause for the seizure, such as a tumor.
Arberg said in 2007 that Roberts quickly recovered from the incident, though he spent the night at the hospital for observation.
At that time, Arberg said that the chief justice, who has presided over the court since 2005, received minor scrapes from the fall but that a “thorough neurological evaluation … revealed no cause for concern.”
Newsweek reported in November 2005 that Roberts suffered the 1993 seizure while golfing. A friend said Roberts was not allowed to drive for several months after the seizure and took the bus to work. The magazine quoted a senior White House aide as describing the episode as an “isolated, idiosyncratic seizure.”
Senators said they had been told of the incident at the time of Roberts’s confirmation in 2005, and none felt it was serious enough for further investigation.
Roberts has not released detailed information about his health or whether he takes medication because of those incidents.
The nine members of the court generally decide for themselves how much information to release about their health.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for instance, has been open about her many medical issues, which include several bouts with cancer. The 87-year-old was recently diagnosed with a gall bladder condition that required hospitalization. She participated in one of the court’s teleconference hearings in May from her hospital room.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the justices have not been seen in public since early March. They closed the Supreme Court to visitors and canceled scheduled oral arguments in March and April.
The justices have been holding their private conferences by telephone and issuing opinions on the court’s website.
The court has gone into overtime to finish its work this term and still has five more cases to decide. Some decisions will be released Wednesday, although that is probably not the court’s final day.
Roberts has been in the public eye more than usual, as he had a constitutional role to play in overseeing the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
The chief justice has played a dominant role this term, and he is now its pivotal member. He joined the court’s decision that said that federal anti-discrimination law covers gay, bisexual and transgender workers, and that struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law.
He wrote the court’s decision that stopped the Trump administration’s plan to end the program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. He recently wrote the court’s decision that said the president has the unrestricted right to fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.