UPDATE: Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch have personally issued a statement in response to the NPR story. In
NEW: A statement from Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch:
"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."
— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) January 19, 2022
In addition, the NPR story claiming Chief Justice John Roberts asked the justices to mask up when on the bench has been debunked by Roberts himself, who issued this statement: “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
Original story below…
Far-left NPR, a taxpayer-funded propaganda outlet that regularly spreads lies, is again being credibly accused of spreading fake news with its sensationalistic report about left-wing Justice Sonia Sotomayor being forced to work from home because conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch refuses to wear a mask.
The NPR headline reads: “Gorsuch didn’t mask despite Sotomayor’s COVID worries, leading her to telework.”
Here’s an excerpt of the credibly-disputed report:
It was pretty jarring earlier this month when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court took the bench for the first time since the omicron surge over the holidays. All were now wearing masks. All, that is, except Justice Neil Gorsuch. What’s more, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not there at all, choosing instead to participate through a microphone setup in her chambers.
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.
Although it’s pretty obvious that the goal of the NPR report was to villainize a conservative justice, Sotomayor also caught a ton of flack for being a baby, especially after she recently made a fool of herself talking about 100,000 children being hospitalized with the coronavirus, COVID deaths being at an all-time high, and that the omicron variant is deadlier than the delta. None of this was even close to accurate. Obviously, Sotomayor has been watching too much CNN and listening to too much NPR.
As far as the NPR story about Gorsuch and masks, Fox News’ straight-up reported that the NPR story is a lie, all of it, even the part about Chief Justice Roberts asking everyone to mask up:
Fox News's Shannon Bream busts some fake news started by NPR about masking at the Supreme Court. The government-funded radio station falsely claimed Justice Gorsuch was purposely rejecting requests from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sotomayor to put a mask on. #DefundNPR pic.twitter.com/JIX02fhxxj
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) January 18, 2022
TRANSCRIPT: NPR published a story saying Justice Sotomayor, who has diabetes and who has been regularly wearing a mask on the bench during arguments, expressed that she, quote “‘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.” [The NPR story] then says that Justice Gorsuch, who normally sits right next to Sotomayor on the bench, has repeatedly refused to do so and that forced Justice Sotomayor to operate remotely from her home office. I am told that is not accurate. A source at the Supreme Court says there’s been no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks… The source further stated Justice Sotomayor did not make any such request to Justice Gorsuch. I’m told, given that fact there’s also been no refusal by Justice Gorsuch. The Justices are all vaccinated and boosted and they do tests before taking the bench for arguments.
Naturally, eager to demonize a conservative justice, the fake news media jumped all over the NPR story.
The story never really passed my smell test. It seemed out of character for everyone involved, including Sotomayor, that the justices would get into a snit like this. Whether you’re a constitutionalist like Gorsuch or a left-wing extremist like Sotomayor, the court’s prestige is something that matters to everyone involved. And while I find her political views appalling and fascist, I’ve never read an unkind word about Sotomayor as a human being. Everyone on the court appears to get along well. So it’s hard to imagine her using this kind of emotional blackmail to force Gorsuch in a mask, especially when she is wearing a mask, vaccinated, and everyone is tested before gathering together to hear arguments.
If NPR got the story wrong, both Sotomayor and Gorsuch are owed apologies.
Editor’s Note: The update at the top of this article originally stated that NPR reported “Justice Sotomayor asked everyone to wear a mask.” That claim was not in NPR’s story, and the update has been corrected.