Supreme Court sources and a law clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch have both disputed a viral NPR report that claimed the conservative justice refused to wear a mask on the bench despite requests from Justice Sonia Sotomayor to do so.
NPR’s story by legal affair correspondent Nina Totenberg, “Gorsuch didn’t mask despite Sotomayor’s COVID worries, leading her to telework,” reported Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the justices to wear masks because of the omicron surge since Justice Sonia Sotomayor has diabetes. Totenberg cited “court sources” to report Sotomayor herself expressed she “did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked” before Roberts made the decision.
“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,” Totenberg wrote. “Gorsuch, from the beginning of his tenure, has proved a prickly justice, not exactly beloved even by his conservative soulmates on the court.”
NPR’s report, which was published on Tuesday morning, was addressed on that evening’s edition of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” when Fox News chief legal correspondent and “FOX News @ Night” anchor Shannon Bream’s sources shot down the report.
“I am told that is not accurate,” Bream said of NPR’s version of events.
“A source at the Supreme Court says there have been no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments,” Bream continued. “The source further stated Justice Sotomayor did not make any such request to Justice Gorsuch. I’m told, given that fact, there was also no refusal by Justice Gorsuch.”
Bream added that all the justices are vaccinated and boosted against COVID and undergo regular testing.
Mike Davis, a former law clerk for Gorsuch, also shot down NPR’s report.
“Fact Check: 100% False,” Davis tweeted. “The Chief never asked his colleagues to mask up, for any reason.”