Last week, the Supreme Court handed down some important rulings concerning Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. This week, the media attention around the court has focused more on an internal controversy about wearing masks inside the court’s offices.
The primary players in the drama are Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining in the discussion. When the court returned from its holiday break at the beginning of the month, all the justices except Gorsuch were wearing masks while sitting on the bench in the courtroom. Sotomayor elected to conduct her court hearings from her chambers by remote audio connection.
NPR reported that Robers asked the court members to wear face masks to help Sotomayor feel safe in the courtroom. Several corporate media outlets reported Gorsuch as the only justice to refuse to participate in the masking exercise to placate Sotomayor.
One of Gorsuch’s law clerks has since disputed the reporting that he refused to wear a mask due to Sotomayor’s request. Shannon Bream with Fox News reported that sources confirmed that there had been no request from Roberts that court members wear masks to in-person arguments. She also said that no direct appeal was made of Gorsuch by Sotomayor either, and accordingly, there was nothing for Gorsuch to refuse to agree to.
Since the court resumed in-court arguments and hearings in October of last year, Sotomayor, 67, has worn a mask when working. She has diabetes, which is considered COVID-19 comorbidity by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Biden Administration’s controversial COVID risk scoring system for determining eligibility for treatments including monoclonal antibodies considered diabetes to be a factor equal to “non-White or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity.” That means that Sotomayor, who has referred to herself as a “wise Latina,” would have a higher federal risk score than a white woman with similar comorbidities, including hypertension, COPD, or congestive heart failure.
During the oral arguments held on January 7 regarding the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate covering private employers of 100 or more workers, Sotomayor made the outlandish claim that more than 100,000 American children were in “serious condition” with COVID-19, with “many on ventilators.” Even the far-left Washington Post rated her statement as “wildly incorrect” and awarded her a Four Pinocchios fact-check.