U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Alito Will Miss State of the Union Because of a ‘Perfectly Timed’ Engagement

The justice who mouthed an objection during President Obama’s State of the Union speech last year won’t be able to make it to this year’s event.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “is taking advantage of a perfectly timed speaking engagement in Hawaii” to miss tonight’s speech, the Washington Post reports. Last year he mouthed the words “not true” when Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling in Citizens United v. Financial Election Commission.

After last year’s speech, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas criticized the event. “To the extent it has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there,” Roberts said last March. Thomas has said he doesn’t attend the speech because it has become so partisan, and Scalia has said he stays away because the justices “sit there like bumps on a log” in a partisan atmosphere.

According to the Post, “their reluctance could lead to a scenario in which only justices appointed by Democratic presidents attend Obama’s speech, underscoring the court’s new reality: Its conservative members were appointed by Republicans, its liberal members by Democrats.” The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times also note the possibility.

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