Chief Justice John Roberts and two other U.S. Supreme Court justices issued unusual statements Wednesday over what is for many Americans a common refrain — whether their coworkers should wear a mask amid the Covid surge.
Following reports of friction inside the court over the issue, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch jointly said she didn’t ask him to wear a mask during arguments. Sotomayor, 67, who has type 1 diabetes, has been taking part in arguments remotely, while Gorsuch is the only justice who isn’t wearing a mask on the bench.
A few hours later, Roberts issued his own statement saying, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
National Public Radio reported on Tuesday that Sotomayor felt unsafe near people who were unmasked and that Roberts, “understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.” NPR on Wednesday said it stood by its reporting.
Fox News early Wednesday said it debunked the claim from the more liberal NPR, citing its own sources and a former Gorsuch law clerk as saying neither Roberts nor Sotomayor had asked colleagues to wear masks.
“Fact Check: 100% False. The Chief never asked his colleagues to mask up, for any reason,” tweeted Mike Davis, a former Gorsuch law clerk.