ABA Journal: Gorsuch is the only SCOTUS justice who isn’t wearing a mask on the bench; did he refuse Roberts’ request?

ABA Journal

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s refusal to wear a mask during recent oral arguments is spurring criticism and one report saying his maskless presence defied a request by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Roberts released a statement Wednesday, however, that denied that he made any such request, Law.com reports.

“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench,” Roberts said.

The statement refutes an NPR report that said Roberts “in some form asked the other justices to mask up” amid the surge in the omicron variant. Gorsuch sits next to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes and was the only justice who wore a mask before the holidays.

Fox News anchor Shannon Bream said Tuesday evening she has been told that the NPR story is not accurate, Fox News reported.

“A source at the Supreme Court says there have been no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments,” Bream said.

Mike Davis, a former law clerk for Gorsuch, tweeted that the chief justice never asked his colleagues to mask up for any reason.

“Fact-check: 100% false,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, Davis said Gorsuch “is vaccinated and boosted, like all justices.” Gorsuch also tests for COVID-19 before all arguments, as do the lawyers, and the Supreme Court has upgraded its air filtration system, he said.