Fox News’s Shannon Bream says story of Gorsuch refusing to mask up ‘not accurate’

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The latest example of the old saying that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes may have been capsulated in a NPR story about Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refusing to mask up around fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes and is considered a high risk category.

Then again, given that Gorsuch is a Trump nominee, it’s easy to see how some may be eager to believe the worst about him as the story circulated wildly online throughout the day Tuesday.

But Fox News chief legal correspondent Shannon Bream threw a bucket of cold water on the fiery tale,  citing a “source at the Supreme Court.”

Fox News host Brett Baier broached the subject Tuesday night on “Special Report,” and Bream shared intel she’d been able to gather.

“I am told that is not accurate. A source at the Supreme Court says there’s been no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments,” she said. “The source further stated Justice Sotomayor did not make any such request to Justice Gorsuch. I’m told, given that fact, there was also no refusal by Justice Gorsuch. The justices are all vaccinated and boosted, and they do test before taking the bench for arguments.”

Here is the NPR report, bias inferred:

It was pretty jarring earlier this month when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court took the bench for the first time since the omicron surge over the holidays. All were now wearing masks. All, that is, except Justice Neil Gorsuch. What’s more, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not there at all, choosing instead to participate through a microphone setup in her chambers.

Sotomayor has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death, from COVID-19. She has been the only justice to wear a mask on the bench since last fall when, amid a marked decline in COVID-19 cases, the justices resumed in-person arguments for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and 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. 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.

Gorsuch, from the beginning of his tenure, has proved a prickly justice, not exactly beloved even by his conservative soulmates on the court.


The story enflamed the ongoing debate in America over whether to mask up or not in the face of COVID-19, and what protections they provide. In the eyes of many, if a person is wearing a mask, then why would they care if someone else isn’t?

There is also the issue of being vaccinated and the supposed benefits that delivers — as noted above, all of the justices are vaccinated and boosted.

NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, who offered the original reporting, declared in a tweet, “Gorsuch refuses to mask up to protect Sotomayor.”

There was even a photoshopped picture making the rounds online to illustrate what a heel Gorsuch was, as seen here:

As expected, the manufactured outrage machine was off and running — with the damage done, don’t expect as spirited an effort to backtrack now that there’s good reason to doubt the veracity of the reporting.

Here’s a sampling of the umbrage seen on Twitter:

Tom Tillison


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