Obama, Biden to Pay Call on Supreme Court
By Robert Barnes
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will welcome President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden -- two senators who voted against his confirmation -- to the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, the court announced tonight.
The court said Roberts, who will administer the oath of office to Obama next Tuesday, invited the pair to meet with him and the associate justices in the ceremonial West Conference Room, and maybe take a tour of the place. Reporters and photographers are not invited.
A meeting between the president and the court is something of a modern-day tradition. Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George H.W. Bush, visited with the justices before they took office in 1980, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore made the trip in 1992 (the famously late Clinton kept the justices waiting). In the wake of the court's 5 to 4 decision in Bush v. Gore that settled the 2000 presidential election, President Bush and Vice President Cheney did not visit before taking office.
No doubt all will be cordial during the meeting, but there is a lot of background between the justices and the politicians. Historians have noted the interesting and unusual dynamic of the new president taking the oath of office from a man whose confirmation he opposed. Biden, of course, was a major player in the contentious confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. And Obama and Biden both voted against Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Alito showed recently that he has not forgotten, poking fun at Biden in a recent speech to a conservative group. Alito took aim at reports that Biden, in a previous presidential bid, lifted portions of his speech without attribution.
"To coin a phrase, in the spirit of the vice-president elect, you don't always get what you want, but you get what you need," Alito said at a dinner hosted by the magazine American Spectator, paraphrasing the Rolling Stones.
He paused and added, "Did somebody say that before?"
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