Jan 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Roberts says he did not ask Gorsuch to wear mask on bench

Photo of a masked John Roberts in his black Supreme Court robe walking in the crypt of the U.S. Capitol with other justices behind him

Chief Justice John Roberts leads the Supreme Court justices as they arrive in the Crypt of the U.S. Capitol for President Biden's inauguration ceremony Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Getty Images

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday that he has not mandated masks for justices in the courtroom, contradicting a report that Justice Neil Gorsuch refused Roberts' directive during in-person arguments.

Why it matters: Gorsuch was the only one to appear without a mask when the Supreme Court returned to the bench in January. NPR reported this week that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes and sits next to Gorsuch, chose to participate remotely out of concern for her health.

Details: According to NPR, which cited "court sources," Roberts had asked each justice to mask up "in some form." But the chief justice said in a statement Wednesday that he "did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench."

  • Sotomayor and Gorsuch also released a joint statement denying that she asked him to wear a mask.
  • "While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends," they said.

The big picture: All of the justices are fully vaccinated and have each gotten a booster shot.

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