A day after Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was vilified on social media for refusing to wear a mask on the bench, he released a statement with his fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes and has been working from her chamber.

“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” the statement read.

It was a head-scratcher of a statement, given that NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported Tuesday that Chief Justice John Roberts — not Sotomayor — had asked the justices to wear masks. But things got even stranger when Roberts weighed in later Wednesday with a statement saying that he hadn’t asked anyone to wear a mask, either.

It was a baffling turn of events that prompted criticism about the quality of reporting and speculation that the justices are worried about the attention being paid to their workplace dynamics. It’s still unclear what the justices actually believe about Gorsuch’s masking decisions.

What is clear, however, is that we politicize the Supreme Court at our peril. If the nation’s most accomplished jurists can’t escape the same mask and political drama now playing out on airplanes and in stores, is there hope for any of us?

The good news — if there’s any to be found in these headlines — is that the drama seems to be taking place on social media, and not in the chambers, if the justices are speaking the truth in their statements.

America needs this to be true.

For all the drama and outrage that sometimes accompanies the nomination and confirmation of justices to the Supreme Court, Americans view the court as the most trustworthy branch of the federal government. This remains true even though faith in the court seesaws when broken down by party affiliation, according to polling by Marquette University’s School of Law.

In September 2020, Republicans said they most trusted the presidency (56%) over the Supreme Court (39%), while Democrats put their faith most in the Supreme Court (68%) rather than the presidency (3%). By September 2021, those numbers had flipped, with 83% Republicans trusting the Supreme Court (just 4% the presidency) and 51% of Democrats trusting the Supreme Court and 27% the presidency.

These numbers, while noteworthy, aren’t ultimately what matters. What matters is that the justices themselves are able to step off the partisan scaffolding that hoist them on the court and decide cases according to the U.S. Constitution and law while maintaining mutual respect and collegiality.

The relationship between Sotomayor (appointed by Barack Obama) and Gorsuch (appointed by Donald Trump) may never be as close as the late-great ideological opposites, Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but Wednesday’s joint statement leaves a crack in the window of hope for greater collegiality and cooperation in our divided nation.