With nine judges with strong positions, the Supreme Court is a microcosm of American society.
One of the new conservative members of the Court was strongly criticized on Tuesday for his apparent refusal to wear a mask during hearings, an attitude reflecting the degraded climate within the venerable institution in the face of Covid-19.
For the second week in a row, Conservative Neil Gorsuch was the only one of nine high court wise men sitting with his face uncovered on Tuesday, the few journalists allowed in the building reported.
Wearing a mask is a very strong political marker in the United States, where the obligation to cover the face, in force in certain places, is considered as an infringement of individual freedoms by a large part of the right.
Supreme Court justices like to repeat that they stand above the political fray and insist on the collegiality of their work.
However, they are finding it increasingly difficult to hide the deep differences between the solid conservative majority (six judges) and the left-wing minority (three).
Court chief John Roberts, a moderate conservative who is keen to bridge the gap between the two blocs, had, according to sources quoted by public radio NPR, asked all judges to wear masks after the end of recess. of year.
According to the radio, he had made this request out of consideration for their progressive colleague Sonia Sotomayor who suffers from diabetes and is more vulnerable in the event of contamination.
All accepted, except Neil Gorsuch - one of the three magistrates appointed by Donald Trump, added NPR.
According to the radio, his attitude prompted Sonia Sotomayor, who sits next to him in the courtroom, to distance himself.
For the past week, she has been participating in the debates by audio link, from her office.
Although Neil Gorsuch is little known to the general public, his attitude was among the most discussed topics on Tuesday on Twitter.
"I'm so glad I didn't vote for that bastard.
What kind of person does that?
“, in particular, tweeted former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill on Twitter, who had opposed her confirmation in 2017.
Asked by AFP, the Supreme Court did not specify which health measures applied within it.
The high court had completely closed in March 2020 and its judges held their hearings by telephone, from their homes, for months.
In October, all vaccinated, they found themselves in Washington, often without a mask, before this protection reappeared at the same time as the Omicron variant.
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A fault ?