Will Republican SCOTUS Appointees Skip The SOTU?
Samuel Alito (pictured, left) will be in Hawaii. It’s unclear whether John Roberts (right) will attend.
The recent uptick in collegiality from lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the run-up to Tuesday’s speech contrasts sharply with the lingering controversy from last year’s speech in which President Obama rebuked the justices over a campaign finance decision. If Roberts decides not to attend, it would be his first absence at a State the Union Speech since joining the court in 2005.
Roberts’s decision — or that of any other justice for that matter — wouldn’t normally be an issue but for the instant uproar that resulted from last year’s address and the observations he and some of his colleagues have made over the last 12 months about the celebrated but often hyper-partisan evening.
Last year, the president’s comments elicited a reaction from Justice Alito that caused controversy.
“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said with six members of the court, including Roberts and Alito, seated just a few feet in front of him. “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
It was Alito’s reaction to the president’s remarks, caught on camera, that fueled the resulting firestorm. He shook his head and appeared to mouth the words “not true” as the Democrats in the House chamber cheered.
Clarence Thomas also objects to attending.
“I don’t go because it has become so partisan,” Justice Clarence Thomas said to students in Florida last year just days after the State of the Union speech, which he did not attend. “And it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there. There’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV: the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments. One of the consequences is now the court becomes part of the conversation, if you want to call it that, in the speeches. It’s just an example of why I don’t go.”
However, if they attend for Republican presidents but not for Democratic ones, isn’t that what makes it partisan?Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 Liberaland