WASHINGTON – Justice Neil Gorsuch is speaking this weekend to the conservative legal group that boosted his Supreme Court candidacy, in a session at a Florida resort that is closed to news coverage.
Gorsuch is billed as the banquet speaker Friday at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society's annual meeting, which is being held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista.
The schedule on the organization's website notes, “The banquet is closed to press.”
Neither the Federalist Society nor the Supreme Court immediately offered any explanation.
The two-day meeting also will feature former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as a session billed “The End of Roe v. Wade?” that will be moderated by a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump. The high court is weighing a major rollback of abortion rights, and could overrule the 1973 Roe decision.
The Federalist Society typically allows reporters to cover its meetings. That was the case in 2017, when Gorsuch addressed more than 2,000 people at a black-tie dinner at Washington's Union Station, seven months after he joined the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch's ascension to the nation's highest court owes at least in part to his inclusion on a list of possible nominees that the Federalist Society helped compile and that Trump issued during his 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Shortly after taking office, Trump nominated Gorsuch for the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Republicans who controlled the Senate refused to confirm former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland.
With DeSantis and Gorsuch on the schedule, the meeting features two prominent public figures who have made a point of not wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
At high court arguments in January, Gorsuch was the only justice who did not wear a mask on the bench. His seatmate, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has had diabetes since childhood and did not attend arguments in person, although she did not ascribe her absence to Gorsuch's decision.
Disney's website says, “Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status.”