Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has refused to wear a mask in court hearings even after Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed Covid-19 worries.

Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg of NPR reported that Chief Justice John Roberts asked the justices to wear masks in light of Sotomayor’s concerns. She has diabetes, which puts her at high risk for contracting the virus, and serious, even fatal symptoms. Sotomayor had been the only judge wearing a mask on the bench since the court returned to in-person hearings last fall. All the judges are reportedly vaccinated, boosted and undergo regular testing, but with omicron numbers surging, all the other justices heeded Robert’s request.

Gorsuch sits by Sotomayor on the bench, and with Gorsuch refusing to mask, Sotomayor has been participating in hearings and conferences with the other justices remotely from her chambers. Justice Stephen Breyer also attended hearings remotely last week, due to a positive Covid-19 test which was later determined to be a false positive.

Mike Davis, one of Gorsuch’s former law clerks, disputed NPR’s story.


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“Fact Check: 100% False,” Davis tweeted. “The Chief never asked his colleagues to mask up, for any reason.”

He reported that the Supreme Court press office had also denied Totenberg’s claim.

Gorsuch was a Trump appointee who joined the highest court’s conservative wing in 2017. He is known for being a strong originalist, who believes that the Constitution should be interpreted the way it was meant to be at the time it was written.

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