At last year’s State of the Union Address, Barack Obama took it upon himself to blast the members of the U.S. Supreme Court as they sat, front and center, in front of him. The unprecented remarks drew reaction from Justice Samuel Alito, but the larger question was whether the State of the Union address serves any purpose other than a prime time opportunity to score political points. On that note, some Supreme Court justices may be skipping the event this year, and in the process, will be making a statement of their own.
As Fox News reports, “it’s still not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts will attend” the speech. Justice Samuel Alito is already planning to skip the event.
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.
An official with the University of Hawaii Law School confirms to FOX News that Alito, who was a significant part of the controversy last year, will be with students in Honolulu all week and therefore will not attend Tuesday night’s speech. It will be the first time he will not show.
“To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there,” Roberts said last March.
As a reminder, here is Barack Obama from last year’s speech:
Alito and Roberts are not alone. The Hill reports that that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “does not plan on attending the State of the Union address on Tuesday.” Scalia hasn’t attended the speech in a number of years, but his absence this year, combined with Alito and Roberts, would surely make a statement.
Scalia’s comments to The Hill came after he briefed a group of House members on the Constitution. “The event was organized by Tea Party Caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MM).” Scalia said that at the meeting, he told legislators to “follow the Constitution.” Too bad that advice is often ignored.
Justice Clarence Thomas will not be in attendance either.
From Fox News: “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.”
Fox News also notes, this comment from Justice Scalia: “It is a juvenile spectacle, and I resent being called upon to give it dignity, Justice Scalia told the Federalist Society in November. “It’s really not appropriate for the justices to be there.”
The Constitution states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” So there we have it. Tonight we get a constitutionally mandated dose of the Obama agenda. More spending, more taxes, and any wagers that he talks about improving education? Maybe I’ll be like Alito, Scalia, and Thomas and just skip it. Any takers?