WASHINGTON (AP) — Judge Neil Gorsuch addresses the conservative legal group that backed his Supreme Court bid this weekend during a session at a Florida resort closed to media coverage.
Gorsuch is featured as the banquet speaker Friday at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society’s annual meeting, 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 the press.”
Neither the Federalist Society nor the Supreme Court immediately offered an explanation.
The two-day meeting will also feature former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as a session titled “The End of Roe v. Wade?” which will be moderated by a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump. The High Court is considering a major rollback of abortion rights and could overturn the 1973 Roe decision.
The Federalist Society generally allows journalists to cover its meetings. Such was the case in 2017, when Gorsuch addressed more than 2,000 people at a black-tie dinner at Union Station in Washington, seven months after joining the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch’s rise to the nation’s highest court owes at least in part to his inclusion on a list of possible candidates that the Federalist Society helped compile and that Trump released during his 2016 campaign for president.
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 declined to confirm former President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.
With DeSantis and Gorsuch on the program, the reunion features two high-profile public figures who have insisted on not wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the High Court oral arguments in January, Gorsuch was the only judge not to wear a mask on the bench. His seatmate, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, has suffered from diabetes since childhood and did not attend the oral arguments in person, although she did not attribute her absence to Gorsuch’s decision.
Disney’s website states, “Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and older) in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status.”