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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Six members of the Supreme Court to attend SOTU

By Robert Barnes

Six of the nine Supreme Court justices will attend President Obama's State of the Union address, the court confirmed Tuesday.

It didn't release names, but that likely means Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will continue his streak of attending the address, despite his misgivings that the speech and the partisan cheering and jeering that accompanies it had turned into a "political pep rally" that makes members of the court uncomfortable.

The likely attendees are Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The no-shows would be Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Scalia and Thomas rarely attend the speech, and Alito is on a speaking engagement in Hawaii.

Alito was at the center of last's year controversy at the State of the Union, where Obama made the rare decision to directly criticize the court for its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed a larger role for corporations and unions in campaign spending. Democratic lawmakers jumped to their feet to cheer, while the court sat mostly stoically. Cameras caught Alito muttering "not true" to Obama's characterization of the case.

Roberts later criticized the timing of Obama's remarks, and said the event led members of the court to reconsider their attendance. "The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court, according to the requirements of protocol, has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling," Roberts said. "And it does cause you to think whether or not it makes sense for us to be there."

The State of the Union address is one of the few times the court, which doesn't allow cameras in its courtroom, is seen on live television. Some outside the court worried about the partisan message that would be sent if only the justices appointed by Democratic presidents--Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan--showed up.

The justices' attendance at the event is left up to them, and there is not even a "typical" number who go. At several speeches in the past decade, Breyer was the only member of the court to attend, and in 2000, no justice showed up.

By Robert Barnes  | January 25, 2011; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

What fools those six are. They look very small. The two true Constitutionalists and honorable Justices chose the right path. When it is exposed that they have all been taken in by the Federal Governments version of Jim Jones, they will wish they hadn't attended.

Posted by: aprilnovember811 | January 26, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunate that the SCOTUS has chosen to become the third political branch of government--two were enough. But from Gore v Bush to Citizens United to Heller to Scalia speaking to the Tea Party caucus, it is clear that they would rather be political actors than fulfill the Court's traditional role of referee between the other two branches, and between the Constitution and the two branches. A shame that those who espouse traditionalism honor it in the breach.

Posted by: samkaplan@hotmail.com | January 25, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Our narcissist president's lack of respect last time is a good reason for the judges not to make a showing at what has actually just become another campaign speech. What President Obama failed to recognize at the last State of the Union Address is that the members of the US Supreme Court are of EQUAL importance. We have three branches of government. It takes class and statesmanship to put aside your partisan differences and speak like a person deserving of your title.

Posted by: takebackamerica1 | January 25, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

No reason for Thomas to attend, he wouldn't understand anyway!

Posted by: FlatEarth | January 25, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I just figured out why they are mixing the seats up for the GOP and Dems. It would be too embarrassing for the DEMs to have US see what a great election turnout can do to a room.

Posted by: cucalafea | January 25, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I just figured out why they are mixing the dems and the GOP seats tonight. It woudl be too embarrassing for the DEMs for US to see what a great election can do to a room.

Posted by: cucalafea | January 25, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse


I don't blame those Justices who choose not to attend. It's hard to sit and listen as the POTUS lies and belittles them for an hour...

Posted by: underthesea1 | January 25, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I wish more people would watch the speech tonight. It would be a great time for me to pick up some bargains on Ebay.

Why should anyone care whether SCOTUS shows up? I would have more respect for them if they did not attend. It is going to be another political rally and our justices should at least give the appearance of being above that nonsense!

If the State of the Union were a real summary of the past year then I could see it.

I'm taking my chances with Ebay and I'll rely on Bill Maher and John Stewart to fill me in later.

Posted by: bandofotters | January 25, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

To liberal locos like loco71 and Rudesan who thought that the reason no justices showed up for the 2000 SOTU is because of their ruling in the 2000 presidential election: Ummm, the 2000 SOTU was 10 months BEFORE the presidential election. Democrats should really learn the concept of "before" and "after" instead of displaying their wholesale ignorance.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | January 25, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's not surprising that the most ideological Justice - Scalia - who also happens to be in bed with the entities that will appear before him regarding healthcare among other issues will not attend the speech.

Thomas, of course, won't either because he is Scalia's chief bootlicker and obedient servant.

These two, along with the perjuring (I Will Not Make Laws; I am an Umpire) Roberts have deeply tarnished the reputation of the court. They have also behaved in a criminally contemptuous way by refusing to recuse themselves from cases where their interest is clear.

Thomas has lied for YEARS about his income from right wing think tanks that have paid his ditzy wife nearly a million bucks to influence cases before the court. Thomas, an idiot who has nothing to offer the court is also a common crook.

One thing is clear -- if they do show up, they'll be in good company, what with all the crooks in congress.
===========================================
And Casey1 what have you done in your life that makes you so wise. Perhaps start with hate for Catholics who attend Mass regularly and their beliefs -- do you wish them to go back where they came from -- would that make you happy ?

Posted by: buckaroo5 | January 25, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Scalia and Thomas SHOULD be impeached.
ANY JUSTICE who meets in private with the Koch Brothers and THEN passes Citizen's United should be impeached.
Scalia and Thomas should be in Prison.

Absolute Trash! Disgusting! Amoral!

Posted by: lufrank1 | January 25, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

no, the justices should stay away from being coerced by the dems...

Posted by: DwightCollins | January 25, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Big mistake for any judge who believes in the Constitution to attend. They should tell Obama to shove his SOTU up his boney a@@. Of course, leftist clowns like Ginsburg and Sotomayor should go. They, like Obama, don't believe in the Constitution.

Posted by: Azarkhan | January 25, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't blame them for not going if Obama is going to stupidly and cowardly (since they can't reply back) criticize them for decisions they are qualified to make and he is eminently NOT qualified to make.

Posted by: martel732 | January 25, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

This president has shown such little statesmanship if I were a judge on the court, I would thumb my nose at him after last years little show. Heck I am no teven on the court and I won't subject myself to this little circus show. LOL you people are still stuck on 2004 election results? Really? well, we will try and make the 2012 numbers so uhm... what's the word? "shellack like" there will be no need for the justices to step in. will out!

Posted by: cucalafea | January 25, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad there will be just one wing nut justice there.

Posted by: Jihm | January 25, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

whoever called the President of the United States (even empty suit Eric Cantor says he was born here) a dirty little Kenyan shows how little respect racists have for this country. He was fairly elected, as opposed to that criminal George Bush.
==============================
Congratulations. You posted the most idiotic comment of the bunch. If you're calling Bush a criminal, then you might want to include a whole lot of Democrats that committed more crimes than Bush was even accused of.

Posted by: martel732 | January 25, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

whoever called the President of the United States (even empty suit Eric Cantor says he was born here) a dirty little Kenyan shows how little respect racists have for this country. He was fairly elected, as opposed to that criminal George Bush.

Posted by: jmr1601 | January 25, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Aha!

Looks like Scalia, Alito and the Silent Judge Thomas have the Star Chamber meeting at the time of the State of the Union speech!

Posted by: kishorgala | January 25, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

It's not surprising that the most ideological Justice - Scalia - who also happens to be in bed with the entities that will appear before him regarding healthcare among other issues will not attend the speech.

Thomas, of course, won't either because he is Scalia's chief bootlicker and obedient servant.

These two, along with the perjuring (I Will Not Make Laws; I am an Umpire) Roberts have deeply tarnished the reputation of the court. They have also behaved in a criminally contemptuous way by refusing to recuse themselves from cases where their interest is clear.

Thomas has lied for YEARS about his income from right wing think tanks that have paid his ditzy wife nearly a million bucks to influence cases before the court. Thomas, an idiot who has nothing to offer the court is also a common crook.

One thing is clear -- if they do show up, they'll be in good company, what with all the crooks in congress.

Posted by: Casey1 | January 25, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For the entire Court not to be in attendance is just bad form, and speaks to the extreme divisive state of our beloved republic.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | January 25, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

They should sit in either the GOP section or "college of cardinals" section- and they should NOT react to anything they here in the address - looks REALLY bad on camera!

Posted by: staussfamily | January 25, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, we know Scurrilous Scalia won't be there; too busy ACTIVELY stirring up Obama-haters.

And Alito will be serving as Scalia's intern-in-training.

Of course, Unca Thomas has a prior engagement speaking at the annual Caucasian County Fair down Georgia way.

And Kennedy will be at home researching the NRA-provided background of more than 100 possible successors to his seat from a list of ultra-right-wing Republican jurists known for decisions promoting various big businesses.

And John Roberts has told Rush Limbaugh the Chief Justice feels a possible seizure coming on.

Oh, the Obama cheers will be continuous and deafening!

Posted by: kinkysr | January 25, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Considering how the dirty little Kenyan treated them last year, I'm surprised any will show.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 25, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Do the Justices even need to be there in the first place?

The State of the Nation speech is the President talking to both Congress and the American people. The Justices are only decoration in this environment. They certainly are excused from not political discourse (except for the right wing nuts) and really aren't needed.

Posted by: KHMJr | January 25, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Three members of the SCOTUS just gave the American public the middle finger salute. The three said, we don't care who you voted for, we don't care about the country as a whole, we're extreme right-wing conservative ideologues and will do everything in our power ti divide America.

Disgusting!

Posted by: thebobbob | January 25, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

True true. You'd think at least the justices who elected Bush would attend...

Posted by: Rudesan | January 25, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Too embarrassed to show up in 2000, no doubt.

Posted by: loco71 | January 25, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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