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Count (Some Of) Them Out

Publication Date: 
October 25, 2010
The Washington Post
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts

Lecturer and founder of SCOTUSblog Thomas C. Golstein is quoted in the Washington Post on the potential absence of some Supreme Court justices at the next State of the Union address. Here is the story:

The Supreme Court is back in session, but don't look for all the justices -- typically lined up in the front row -- at the next State of the Union address.

In recent weeks, the usually discreet justices have been pretty vocal on the topic of whether they should attend the annual speech. Justice Samuel Alito, for one, will likely skip it. "I doubt that I will be there in January," he said after a speech at the Manhattan Institute two weeks ago. The presidential address to Congress, he said, has become too political and "very awkward" for members of the court who are supposed to appear nonpartisan: "We have to sit there like the proverbial potted plant . . . and that's sometimes very hard." (Alito, you recall, created a stir last January when shook his head and appeared to mouth the words "not true" in response to President Obama's remarks criticizing the court's ruling on campaign finance.)


SCOTUS blog founder Tom Goldstein sides with Alito on this one. "I think it's totally unfair for the president to call them out, when they can't respond there or anywhere else," he told us. With all the cameras and the fact that no one really knows when to sit, stand or cheer, Goldstein gives the justices a pass: "There should be a forum for showing the three branches of government together, but this one doesn't seem to work."