U.S. Supreme Court

Which justices skipped the State of the Union?


Three of the four justices who skipped President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening have previously expressed qualms about attending.

The justices who did not attend were Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times and TPM Livewire. Sotomayor was in California to judge a moot court competition at a law school, while the other justices have previously stated that they are uncomfortable attending. Sotomayor also missed last year because of a speaking appearance at a legal conference in Guam.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has also criticized the address as a “political pep rally,” according to the BLT. But the blog says he attended anyway, “perhaps because of his role as chief justice, and also to soften the perception that justices divide along political lines on the question of attendance.”

Alito hasn’t attended since 2010 when he mouthed “not true” in response to President Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United decision. In Tuesday’s address, Obama didn’t specifically mention the Supreme Court, but he did refer to it indirectly, the BLT says. The president’s reference: “Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened.”

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