Sotomayor, Gorsuch deny report they were at odds over masks

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FILE - Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, left, and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, gather with other justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for an official group portrait, June 1, 2017, at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

wo Supreme Court justices say a media report that they were at odds over the wearing of masks in court during the recent surge in coronavirus cases is false.

The court on Wednesday issued an unusual three-sentence statement from Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch. It read: “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.”

Sotomayor is an appointee of former President Barack Obama while Gorsuch was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

Sotomayor, who has diabetes, has been attending arguments remotely from her chambers this month during the surge of the coronavirus’ omicron variant. Her colleagues, with the exception of Gorsuch, have been wearing masks this month while hearing arguments in the courtroom.

Later Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts responded to inquiries about whether he had asked his colleagues to wear masks, saying in statement, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.” He said he would have no further comment.

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