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Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (L) talks with Chief Justice John Roberts (R) on the steps of the Supreme Court following his official investiture at the Supreme Court June 15, 2017 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee / Getty Images

WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — All three Supreme Court justices involved in an NPR report alleging internal strife over masking have issued statements declaring the story to be entirely false, but the taxpayer-funded news outlet refuses to retract it.

On Tuesday, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose diabetes is a risk factor for COVID-19, “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,” yet Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to comply despite the fact that he “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.”

Liberal commentators quickly seized on the story as evidence of Gorsuch’s callousness, casting his opposition to COVID vaccine mandates in a negative light. But the next day, Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a joint statement calling the report “false,” followed by a statement from Roberts revealing he never made such a request in the first place:

NPR’s story has not been updated to acknowledge or include the justices’ statements. On Wednesday, Totenberg tweeted simply that “NPR stands by my reporting,” which was met with skepticism and derision:

As for the origin of the story, RealClearInvestigations reporter Mark Hemingway speculated that Sotomayor herself, or her clerks, may have been the culprits. Sotomayor is a notoriously left-wing jurist who made several false claims about COVID during oral arguments over the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

Available evidence suggests that masks have played little, if any, role in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States, such as the CDC’s September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out the coronavirus when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased the use of masks, that use did not yield the expected benefits: “mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

Earlier this month, former U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and current Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb, a respected voice among those who hold the establishment view of COVID, admitted that “cloth masks aren’t gonna provide a lot of protection” against the virus, a position for which YouTube suspended U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as recently as August.