Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement Wednesday denying a National Public Radio report that claimed he had asked his colleagues to wear masks on the bench in deference to fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The statement by Roberts constituted a rare rebuke of reporting by veteran NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, whose Tuesday story stated that Justice Neil Gorsuch’s refusal of Roberts’ purported request had forced Sotomayor to take part in oral arguments remotely.
“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench,” said Roberts in the statement issued by the court’s press office.
According to Totenberg’s story, Sotomayor — who is diabetic — “did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked” amid the surge in infections caused by the Omicron variant.
“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us,” the statement read. “It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”
Mike Davis, a former Gorsuch clerk, also shot down the report, calling it “100% False.”
“The Chief never asked his colleagues to mask up, for any reason,” Davis posted on Twitter.