I was heartened that the justice was aware.
But, then I read more.
It turns out that the thrust of the story is, actually, that the Supreme Court's press office is trying to correct the record. According to them, there was an error in the official transcript. Gorsuch was, in fact, they insist ... not correct.
In a statement today, the court said that Gorsuch actually remarked that he believes the flu kills “hundreds, thousands of people every year.” Which reportedly is consistent with audio tapes of the hearing.
This is an embarrassingly naive sentence. It might be passable for a celebrity contestant on "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" but it's not for a justice charged with weighing facts and issuing dispassionate decrees that influence the fates of billions of people in a strictly objective way.
(Yes, billions, because pandemics are global phenomena. Viruses don't care about borders, or anything else. Everyone's immune status factors into the same picture.)
Influenza is a virus that most of us take for granted. Few people know or care about the scale of the damage it does. We've resigned to accept it, and to look away.
But this justice is not just any person. The idea that the flu might kill only hundreds of people each year suggests a level of abject ignorance that, in a real job, would lead to firing. It would indicate that this person is plainly not qualified to make decisions about vaccines and infectious diseases.
Which is fine. Everyone has their area of expertise. Lawyers could stick to law. But they are not. Instead what they're actually doing now is trying to reverse engineer arguments to undermine the concept of vaccine mandates.
It's always tragic when political appointees try to push an agenda under the guise of expertise. That undermines the entire idea that anyone knows anything at all. Especially when it's expertise that they don't have.