2 SCOTUS Justices Issue Unusual Joint Statement

Gorsuch, Sotomayor say they're not feuding over mask-wearing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2022 4:48 PM CST
Gorsuch, Sotomayor Deny Report on Mask Disagreement
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch gather with other justices of the US Supreme Court for an official group portrait, June 1, 2017.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor say that while they don't always agree on the law, they're not feuding over mask-wearing. The Donald Trump appointee and the Barack Obama appointee issued an unusual joint statement Wednesday in response to an NPR story that said Sotomayor had not been on the bench because Gorsuch had rejected requests to wear a mask. "Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false," the two justices said, per the AP. "While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends."

Sotomayor, who has diabetes, usually sits next to Gorsuch on the bench but has been joining arguments remotely during the pandemic. The conservative justice was the only justice without a mask during arguments Wednesday, Bloomberg reports. NPR said Wednesday that it stands by the reporting of Nina Totenberg. Her story didn't say Sotomayor had directly asked Gorsuch to wear a mask, though it did say Chief Justice John Roberts had asked justices to mask up. "I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench," Roberts said in a statement Wednesday.

Roberts added that he would have no further comment on the issue. Fox reports that its sources cast doubt on the NPR report before the justices spoke out. "A source at the Supreme Court says there have been no blanket admonition or request from (the) chief justice that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments," Fox anchor Shannon Bream said Tuesday night. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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