Sotomayor and Gorsuch issue statement denying tensions over masks
Supreme Court Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorSupreme Court, Vaccination and Government by Fox News On the Money – SCOTUS overturns Biden’s vax-or-test rules Why California needs a Latino state Supreme Court justice MORE Wednesday released a joint statement with his fellow judge Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court rejects bid to block mask mandate on planesSupreme Court agrees to hear case on suspension of HS coach for on-field prayers The Supreme Court, Immunization and Government by Fox News MORE denying tension over masks, Sotomayor saying she didn’t ask Gorsuch wearing a mask amid surging COVID-19 cases.
Gorsuch, a member of the panel’s conservative bloc, was the only judge to appear without a mask for arguments this month, court watchers noted recently.
Sotomayor, 67, who has type 1 diabetes putting him at additional risk from COVID-19, opted to participate in remote court hearings starting earlier this month.
“Reporting that Judge Sotomayor asked Judge Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. This is untrue,” Sotomayor and Gorsuch said in the joint statement shared by the court on Wednesday.
“Although we sometimes disagree on the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” they added, without identifying exactly which report they were referring to.
NPR‘s Nina Totenberg reported on Tuesday that Sotomayor was uncomfortable being around unmasked individuals and chose to listen to the arguments from his room.
The outlet reported that Chief Justice John Roberts asked his colleagues to wear a mask, although Gorsuch reportedly refused.
The NPR report did not say Sotomayor asked Gorsuch to wear a mask, and the outlet issued a statement defending his report.
“Totenberg never reported that Judge Sotomayor asked Judge Gorsuch to wear a mask, nor did she report that anyone reprimanded him,” said NPR spokesperson Ben Fishel, in the statement obtained by The Hill.
CNN, citing a source close to the situation, reported that Sotomayor expressed concerns to Roberts but did not directly ask Gorsuch to wear a mask.
In addition to joining the pleadings of his firm, Sotomayor participated in judge-only conferencing sessions remotely, CNN reported, citing a court spokeswoman.
Supreme Court Justice Stephane BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court debates fate of Nazi-stolen artwork The Supreme Court, vaccination and government by Fox News On the Money – SCOTUS invalidates Biden rules vax-or-test MORE, 83, also participated in remote pleadings earlier this month “out of an abundance of caution” after having a false positive test, a court spokesperson said at the time.
All Supreme Court justices are vaccinated against COVID-19 and have received boosters.