Justice Gorsuch Reportedly Refused Request to Mask Up Despite Justice Sotomayor’s Health Concerns


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A new report on the Supreme Court is delving into how Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been inconvenienced by her colleague, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and his refusal to wear a face mask.

NPR took a deep dive into the Supreme Court with a report that explores the relationships between the justices, the judicial debates they have with one another, and the political dynamic between the court’s liberal and conservative wings. Of course, the Supreme Court has experienced the upheaval the coronavirus has caused for everyone, and NPR’s report offers a stark look at the pandemic’s impact on the court’s procedures and deliberations among the justices.

The article notes that when the justices took the bench earlier this month after the holidays, all of them were wearing masks except for Gorsuch. Sotomayor wasn’t there at all, opting for a remote set-up from her personal chambers as she is vulnerable to the spread of omicron because she is immunocompromised by diabetes, and even though Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly asked his colleagues to mask up for her sake, Gorsuch has apparently refused to do so.

From the report:

Sotomayor has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death, from Covid-19. She has been the only justice to wear a mask on the bench since last fall when, amid a marked decline in Covid-19 cases, the justices resumed in-person arguments for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.

They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.

The report comes shortly after the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration’s push for a vaccine-or-test mandate among businesses, but upheld the mandate requiring health care workers in facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding to be vaccinated. Sotomayor spoke in favor for both types of mandates during oral arguments.

UPDATE 1/18/2022: Fox News’ Shannon Bream reported later on Tuesday that a source at the Supreme Court told her the NPR story is not accurate.

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