Earlier this week, Nina Totenberg, the grande dame of Supreme Court reporters, came out with a hot scoop. Apparently, every justice but one had agreed to mask up for the comfort and safety of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is diabetic and at elevated risk due to the latest coronavirus surge. Only that asshole Neil Gorsuch refused, according to Totenberg's reporting.
Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.
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.
Wow, pretty shocking that a guy who ruled that a company had a right to fire a trucker for refusing to freeze to death in an unheated truck doesn't believe in workplace safety, right?
But then the Court issued a rare public statement purporting to be from Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch saying, "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."
As all of law Twitter immediately noted, this was not a denial of the story as written.
Not for nothing, but the report was that CJ Roberts asked Gorsuch to wear a mask out of respect for Sotomayor, not that she herself asked Gorsuch to show some basic common decency and he refused.https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog/status/1483841138079453188\u00a0\u2026— Liz Dye (@Liz Dye) 1642611226
So much for textual originalism.
Realizing perhaps that it had only managed to Streisand-effect the whole story, the Court came out with yet another statement, this time purporting to be from Chief Justice Roberts.
More developments on the mask spat -- SCOTUS issues ANOTHER statement, this one from the chief justice:\n\n\u201cI did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.\u201d\n\nUnlike the earlier statement, this one directly disputes the original report from NPR.https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog/status/1483841138079453188\u00a0\u2026— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) 1642620561
"I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench,” he insisted petulantly. Lest anyone think that he showed a modicum of leadership or enforced basic decorum. Make no mistake: Chief Justice Roberts is taking no responsibility here for the health and well-being of his colleagues!
To recap:\n1) Last week -- Me: "Roberts needs to grow a spine & show some leadership!"\n2) Yesterday -- Report: "Roberts DID show leadership."\n3) Today -- Roberts: "Make no mistake, I showed absolutely no leadership at all!"\nGlad we got to the bottom of that one!!!— Joe Patrice (@Joe Patrice) 1642623819
We may never know what happened behind the scenes. But yesterday Justice Gorsuch appeared maskless again for oral arguments, even as all his colleagues, and all the lawyers, and all the court staff showed up masked. Justice Sotomayor, who sits next to Justice Gorsuch, participated remotely. So your Wonkette will not be retracting its commentary, the crux of which was that Justice Gorsuch was, and remains, a giant raging, dickhole. Res ipsa loquitur.
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