The Washington Post: The Supreme Court’s thoroughly weird handling of the Sotomayor-Gorsuch story

The Washington Post

There is perhaps no institution in the United States that is as responsible for carefully parsing claims as the Supreme Court.

Which made its handling of a provocative NPR report rather puzzling.

Longtime NPR Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg reported Tuesday that Justice Sonia Sotomayor has taken part in oral arguments and weekly conferences remotely because Justice Neil M. Gorsuch has declined to wear a mask. In response, the Supreme Court on Wednesday did something it rarely does: release a statement, which was attributed to both justices. Then it had to release yet another rare statement cleaning up the mess created by the first one.

“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false,” the two justices said in the first statement. “While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”

After Totenberg’s report Tuesday, Fox News’s legal correspondent Shannon Bream disputed it, citing her own source. Bream stated the source said there was “no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments.” She added that the “source further stated Justice Sotomayor did not make any such request to Justice Gorsuch” — which, again, Totenberg hadn’t claimed.

The National Law Journal’s Supreme Court reporter, Marcia Coyle, also disputed the report, stating that her sources said Roberts “made no such mask request.” Former Gorsuch clerk Mike Davis also called Totenberg’s report that Roberts made the request “100% False.”