Justice Neil Gorsuch, the anti-masker on the Supreme Court

When a Harvard Law School graduate sitting on the highest court of the land refuses to protect a vulnerable co-worker from a deadly virus, it tragically illustrates the crippling arrogance and selfishness that has infected the country.

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Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joins other justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for an official group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Thursday. June 1, 2017.

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joins other justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for an official group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Thursday. June 1, 2017.

AP

When Donald Trump visited a Ford plant in Michigan in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, he appeared before the cameras without a mask.

“I had one on before,” the then-president revealed. “I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” Give Trump a sliver of a point for masking up when he thought no one was snapping his picture.

We can’t say the same for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

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Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, has refused to wear a mask during in-court proceedings, dismissing a request made by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to a recent NPR report that has sparked plenty of back-and-forth in recent days.

Roberts made the appeal during the Omicron surge on behalf of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the report said. The 67-year-old Sotomayor has diabetes and therefore is at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

But Sotomayor and Gorsuch put out a joint statement Wednesday, saying Sotomayor never asked Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask and maintaining that “While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.”

NPR stood by its story, pointing that it reported that Roberts, not Sotomayor, made the mask plea. Then, hours later, Roberts put out his own statement denying that he asked anyone on the bench to mask up.

We don’t know which justice said what and why. NPR cited court sources for its story.

But what we do know is that Gorsuch is the only justice who hasn’t worn a mask during recent oral arguments. Because of his decision, Sotomayor, who sits next to Gorsuch, has chosen to join her peers remotely by telephone, NPR said.

Sadly, Gorsuch’s behavior isn’t an anomaly. There are hordes of anti-maskers out there. But when a Harvard Law School graduate sitting on the highest court of the land refuses to wear a mask to help protect a vulnerable co-worker — and everyone else around him — it’s a telling example of the crippling arrogance and selfishness that have become all too commonplace in our country.

It’s an infection, just like the coronavirus.

Gorsuch, in 2019, wrote a book waxing on about the need for civil discourse and mutual respect in politics.

“Bedew no man’s face with your spittle, by approaching too near him when you speak,” Gorsuch wrote, citing a George Washington quote.

COVID-19, scientists tell us, is spread through airborne particles and droplets from our noses and mouths.

Gorsuch should put on a mask, to keep his spittle and hypocrisy in check.

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