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Sonia Sotomayor Is Having to Work Remotely Because Neil Gorsuch Refuses To Wear a Mask

Neil Gorsuch smiles in his justice robe in front of a red curtain

When the Supreme Court resumed in-person arguments earlier this month after breaking for the holidays, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was notably not present. Instead, she was participating remotely from her chambers. And apparently, that’s because of Neil Gorsuch.

Last fall, as COVID-19 cases declined and all the justices presumably received their vaccinations and boosters, most of the Supreme Court justices stopped wearing masks. Sotomayor still masked up, though, as she’s at higher risk of serious illness due to having type 1 diabetes. Since the court is resuming right in the middle of the incredibly impactful omicron variant surge, the justices are back to wearing masks—except for Gorsuch.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports that “according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.”

“They all did,” says Totenberg. “Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.”

You have to be a pretty huge jerk to actively refuse to consider the safety of your immunocompromised coworker, especially when they are making a direct and very simple request for you to do so. (Plus, five of his fellow justices are over 65, with the oldest being 82. Wear a mask around 82-year-olds in general!)

But Gorsuch is that huge of a jerk, as NPR notes that he’s “not exactly beloved even by his conservative soulmates on the court.”

Gorsuch’s refusal to show his colleague basic respect is abhorrent and it’s infuriating that because of his selfishness, Sotomayor is the one who has to work around his demands.

(via NPR, image: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.