Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s COVID-19 exaggerations draw scorn, ‘misinformation’ claims

During oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor engaged in an egregious level of exaggeration regarding the severity of the virus in children, leading some to suggest that it is she – not those banned by social media censors during the pandemic – who is actually guilty of peddling medical misinformation.

As Fox News notes, in discussing the vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees, Sotomayor made the eyebrow-raising claim that there are currently around 100,000 children hospitalized in serious conditions, with “many on ventilators.”

However, even according to left-leaning “fact checkers” at Politifact, the justice’s assertion was extraordinarily inaccurate, noting that “the most recent data available as of Sotomayor’s remark showed 3,342 children were currently hospitalized for confirmed COVID-19” and that the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that “severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children.”

It was not long before court watchers expressed their incredulity at Sotomayor’s straight-faced proclamation, with radio host Clay Travis saying, “Justice Sotomayor’s comment on 100,000 children in serious condition with covid is such a flagrantly untrue statement she should have to correct if after the argument,” and Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute noting that the claim was just “one of many facts she got wrong, before even getting to not understanding the legal principles at play.”

The staggering magnitude by which Sotomayor’s estimation of childrens’ illness missed the mark was so great that even Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky – herself no stranger to promulgating coronavirus panic propaganda – had no choice but to correct her on national television over the weekend, telling Fox News Sunday host Bret Baier, “The number is not 100,000. It’s roughly 3500 in hospitals now.”

As a result of the utterly embarrassing display of ignorance from the bench, which also included an assertion from Justice Stephen Breyer that there had been 750,000,000 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed the previous day, George Washington law professor and legal commentator Jonathan Turley posed an especially timely question, namely, “Would quoting Justice Breyer or Sotomayor from the vaccine mandate oral argument get one suspension by Twitter for covid disinformation?”

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey echoed Turley’s line of thinking, noting that even though the self-styled “wise Latina” does not have a presence on social media, it seems unlikely that her spurious COVID claims – easily disproved as they were – would result in the same social media “misinformation” sanctions suffered by so many who have dared criticize vaccines, masking, or any other facet of the federal pandemic response.

Highlighting factually questionable statements made by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Elena Kagan throughout the day’s arguments, Morrissey pointed to what he called “the folly of believing that judges and politicians are somehow exempt from misinformation and manipulation,” adding that “even judges at the top of the food chain can be lazy, unengaged, and foolish.”

Despite the recent insistence by a number of justices on the high court that their deliberations and decisions are not filtered through a partisan lens and that they are not political actors, the bizarre performances last week of the liberals on the bench did very little to help make that case.