Not Real News

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits during a group photo at the Supreme Court on April 23, 2021 in Washington. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming Sotomayor dined with Democratic congressional leadership at a restaurant on Jan. 7. 

CLAIM: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dined with Democratic congressional leadership at a restaurant on Jan. 7.

THE FACTS: The claim is based on inaccurate reporting from Politico on Jan. 8, which was eventually corrected. The news outlet erroneously reported that Sotomayor attended the dinner, but later said it had mistakenly identified Iris Weinshall, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s wife, as Sotomayor. The posts falsely claiming that Sotomayor dined with Democratic politicians on Jan. 7 continued to spread on social media last weekend, despite the source of the claim retracting it.

Users pointed out that Sotomayor had attended court remotely earlier in the day, during oral arguments over the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rules for private employers and health care workers.

“Justice Sotomayor, who participated in yesterday’s SCOTUS arguments remotely from her chambers, seen last night at Le Diplomate with Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Sens. Klobuchar and Durban, per Politico,” said one Jan. 8 Facebook post.

Politico made the false claim in its Playbook newsletter the morning of Jan. 8, linking to a photo that appears to show several of the politicians sitting at a table at a restaurant. But it posted a correction later that day, stating it had “erroneously placed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dining with Democratic leaders at a Washington restaurant Friday night.” The correction goes on to state that its source “mistook Iris Weinshall, wife of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, for the justice.”

A spokesperson for Schumer confirmed to The Associated Press that Sotomayor was not in attendance at the dinner. Sotomayor, who is diabetic, chose to stay in her office at the court and participate remotely during the Jan. 7 arguments over the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rules.

During these oral arguments, Sotomayor separately claimed that more than 100,000 children are in “serious condition” with COVID-19 in the U.S, remarks that also generated significant discussion on social media. But her statement was incorrect. Federal data shows that more than 5,000 minors are currently hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. And between August 2020 and last Friday, when Sotomayor made the claim, fewer than 83,000 kids had been hospitalized with the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Supreme Court’s public information office did not immediately respond to the AP’s requests for comment on either issue.

— Associated Press writers Josh Kelety in Phoenix and Karena Phan in Sacramento, California, contributed this report.