U.S. Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor released a statement on Wednesday debunking a false narrative published by NPR claiming that the Trump appointee refused to wear a mask despite the leftist justice’s wishes.
“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” the statement from the justices read.
One day prior, NPR’s Nina Totenberg wrote a hit piece targeting Gorsuch and claiming that the conservative judge “didn’t mask despite Sotomayor’s COVID worries, leading her to telework.”
This is not Totenberg’s first time writing false stories to target conservative judges. As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway previously noted, Totenberg, “easily NPR’s most biased reporter,” was the first person to amplify Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against then-SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas.
According to Totenberg’s most recent report smearing Gorsuch, the rise of the omicron variant in the U.S. prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to ask the SCOTUS justices to “mask up.” While most of the justices complied, Gorsuch chose to proceed without a face covering.
Totenberg, who clearly holds a grudge against Gorsuch (she calls him a “prickly justice”), reported the justice’s choice as a slight to Sotomayor who has a myriad of underlying health issues including diabetes. She cited “court sources” to suggest that “Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked.”
“His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone,” Totenberg claimed.
While it is true that Sotomayor has refrained from listening to oral arguments in person and instead chose to join virtually from her chambers, the justices’ statement clearly suggests that her decision to remain remote did not stem from a spat with Gorsuch.
Despite the justices’ statement, Totenberg’s colleagues continued to defend her false story and even went so far as to claim that Gorsuch and Sotomayor’s words were engineered.
“I surprised at how many Supreme Court correspondents I admire are passing along a statement from two justices that is at best false without any context whatsoever,” NPR’s David Gura tweeted.
Shortly after The Federalist published this article, Chief Justice John Roberts released a statement denying that he ever requested justices wear face coverings while the Supreme Court was in session despite Totenberg’s report stating otherwise.
“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench,” the statement read.