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Sotomayor, Gorsuch Dispute NPR Report of Mask Rift

January 19, 2022 by Dan McCue
Sotomayor, Gorsuch Dispute NPR Report of Mask Rift

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch took the unusual step Wednesday of releasing a joint public statement to refute a news report that stated a COVID-related rift has erupted between them.

In recent days, Sotomayor, who is diabetic and therefore at a heightened risk to experience the worst of a COVID-19 infection if she catches one, has been participating in oral arguments from home, with internet speculation being that it was because Gorsuch refuses to wear a face mask.

According to a National Public Radio report, Chief Justice John Roberts asked all of the justices to wear face masks in recognition of Sotomayor’s concerns. All of the justices, with the exception of Gorsuch, complied, the report said.

But by late afternoon there was more ire aimed at the report by Nina Totenberg, with the purported details of the situation attributed to “court sources.”

A few hours after Sotomayor and Gorsuch released their joint statement, Chief Justice Roberts issued one of his own.

“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench,” he said.

NPR is standing behind Totenberg’s reporting.

Previously, the Supreme Court had announced all of the justices had been vaccinated.

In Wednesday’s statement, the court’s public information office said, “Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. 

“It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” the statement continued.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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