Sotomayor, Gorsuch deny report they were at odds over masks

Jan 19, 2022, 11:47 AM | Updated: 7:49 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Supreme Court justices say a media report that they were at odds over the wearing of masks in court during the recent surge in coronavirus cases is false.

The court on Wednesday issued an unusual three-sentence statement from Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch. It read: “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.”

Sotomayor is an appointee of former President Barack Obama while Gorsuch was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

Sotomayor, who has diabetes, has been attending arguments remotely from her chambers this month during the surge of the coronavirus’ omicron variant. Her colleagues, with the exception of Gorsuch, have been wearing masks this month while hearing arguments in the courtroom.

Later Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts responded to inquiries about whether he had asked his colleagues to wear masks, saying in statement, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.” He said he would have no further comment.

Gorsuch has never said why he is not wearing a mask on the bench. He has not responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Both statements from the justices came after NPR’s longtime Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg reported Tuesday on an alleged conflict between Sotomayor and Gorsuch, who normally sit next to each other during arguments at the high court.

Totenberg reported that unidentified court sources said “Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked” and that “Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.” She did not elaborate.

Gorsuch’s decision not to wear a mask “has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone,” Totenberg reported. An NPR spokeswoman said in an email Wednesday after the justices released their statements that “NPR stands behind Nina Totenberg’s reporting.”

Following NPR’s story, CNN also reported that “a source familiar with the situation” said Sotomayor didn’t “feel comfortable sitting on the bench near colleagues who are not masked.” Neither NPR’s story nor CNN’s story said Sotomayor had directly asked Gorsuch to wear a mask. The justices’ statement did not say what reporting it was referencing.

Since the justices returned to hearing in-person arguments in October, Sotomayor has worn a mask during arguments at the high court while her colleagues have not. They changed their practice this month during the surge of the coronavirus’ omicron variant.

All the justices have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and received a booster shot. Attorneys who argue before the justices also have to have a negative coronavirus test or argue remotely by telephone, and journalists who attend in person are also asked to have a negative test.

So far, three attorneys have had to argue by phone this month because of positive tests. The public is not currently allowed to attend arguments.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

From left, Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of C...
Associated Press

Congress sends landmark gun violence compromise to Biden

The House sent President Joe Biden the most wide-ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades on Friday.
11 hours ago
People celebrate outside the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington. The Supreme Court...
Associated Press

From joy to anger, faith leaders react to Roe’s reversal

Religious Americans are deeply divided in their views on abortion, and reactions from faith leaders ranged from elation to anger after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide. The ruling issued Friday was hailed by leading Catholic bishops, even though a majority of U.S. Catholics […]
11 hours ago
FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

Monkeypox outbreak continuing to grow across Britain

LONDON (AP) — British officials said the monkeypox outbreak in the U.K. is continuing to grow across the country, mainly among men who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. They urged those with new or multiple sex partners to be vigilant for the symptoms of monkeypox. In a technical […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawsuits challenge Oklahoma anti-protest law; riot charges

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Six Oklahomans have filed two federal lawsuits that challenge a state law intended to crack down on protestors and that allege their civil rights were violated when they were arrested in Oklahoma City in 2020. The anti-protest law is unconstitutionally broad and vague, according to one of the lawsuits filed Thursday […]
11 hours ago
A person walks past Planned Parenthood Friday, June 24, 2022, in St. Louis. Most abortions are now ...
Associated Press

With Roe dead, some fear rollback of LGBTQ and other rights

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to ban abortion immediately stirred alarm Friday among LGBTQ advocates, who feared that the ruling could someday allow a rollback of legal protections for gay relationships, including the right for same-sex couples to marry. In the court’s majority opinion overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Justice Samuel […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Hearing set for Wisconsin teen accused of killing girl

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin teenager accused of killing a 10-year-old girl will find out in September whether he will stand trial. Chippewa County Circuit Judge Benjamin Lane on Friday scheduled a Sept. 1 preliminary hearing for the 14-year-old boy, identified in court documents as C.T.P.-B. That’s the step in the criminal justice process […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Sotomayor, Gorsuch deny report they were at odds over masks