Compared to the above mass fake news about mass graves that have not, in fact, been verified, NPR’s bit of false reporting on Supreme Court intrigue seems trivial, and is. NPR’s longtime liberal-leaning Supreme Court reporter impugned Democratic Party boogie man Neil Gorsuch—He stole Merrick Garland’s seat!—by writing that Mean Neil was trying to kill Justice Sotomayor ( who “has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death” from the Wuhan virus) or something, because he refused to wear a mask despite Justice Roberts “asking” him to. Sotomayor, therefore, has to participate in the Court’s work via Zoom. Gorsuch is, apparently, fully vaccinated, and doesn’t have the virus.
Therefore, he should not have to wear a mask. Gorsuch does sit next to Sotomayor on the bench, so his continued unmasked presence, Totenberg surmises without knowing, has caused Sotomayor to choose not to attend the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.
In a joint statement after Totenberg’s “scoop” based on anonymous SCOTUS tipsters, Sotomayor and Gorsuch denied her facts, conclusions and spin, which was that the mask conflict demonstrated tension on the Court.
“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us,” the statement said. “It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.” Chief Justice Roberts issued his own statement saying, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
Totenberg subsequently has said in a report addressing the justices’ statements that “NPR stands by its reporting.” Ann Althouse, commenting on the episode, says, “Roberts, Sotomayor, and Gorsuch could all be lying or stretching the truth.” That’s true. However, lying in public is a breach of both judicial and legal ethics. Journalists today, including Totenberg, lie as a matter of course.
I know which I’m inclined to believe in this dispute.
That said, I will also say this: if it made a close workplace colleague more comfortable for me to wear a mask, as foolish as I think that is, I’d do it if the alternative was her feeling that she had to work remotely.