Supreme Court Puts Out Statement; Denies Sotomayor Asked Gorsuch To Wear A Mask
A statement was released on Wednesday by the Supreme Court that provided some push back against recent reports from the media stating that Justice Sonia Sotomayor had asked fellow Justice Neil Gorsuch to put on a mask during hearings.
The SCOTUS statement comes about as as several major outlets, including NPR, cited several unnamed court sources that claim Sotomayor didn’t feel safe being in close proximity to unmasked people, noting her diabetes and the fact she has recently been attending the hearings remotely.
All nine justices on the bench are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and all of them except Gorsuch, who sits adjacent to Sotomayor, wear masks during the hearings.
“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false,” the Supreme Court said in the written statement. “While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”
While the highest court denied that Sotomayor asked Gorsuch to wear a mask, it did not mention the reason for Sotomayor’s recent decision to participate in oral arguments remotely. Sotomayor has operated remotely for at least three oral argument hearings in recent weeks.
A court spokeswoman said Wednesday that Sotomayor would continue to participate remotely from her chambers for the remainder of the week, according to a tweet from New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak.
Notably, the NPR report never claimed Sotomayor asked Gorsuch to wear a mask. Rather, the article suggested Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged Sotomayor’s concerns about COVID-19 transmission.
“Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up,” NPR wrote in their piece.
The statement from the Supreme Court did prompt a few journalists to become skeptical over the whole issue. Elie Mystal tweeted, “The report was that Roberts asked him to wear a mask, not Sotomayor. So… I don’t get this statement.”
The Washington Examiner attempted to contact the Supreme Court but as of this writing has not received a response.