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Justice Scalia: State of the Union ‘childish spectacle’

RightMarch February 13, 2013

Catalina Camia and Richard Wolf at USA Today reports:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the State of the Union Address, calling the presidential speech something worth skipping because it is a “rather silly affair.”

“It has turned into a childish spectacle, and I don’t think that I want to be there to lend dignity to it,” Scalia said Tuesday night during his own remarks before the Smithsonian Associates at George Washington University.

Scalia’s views are shared by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush. Roberts once said the presidential speech has “denigrated into a political pep rally” and added that it was “troubling” to expect members of the high court to sit there expressionless.

Indeed, Alito was seen on TV cameras during Obama’s 2010 remarks shaking his head and mouthing the words “not true” when the president criticized the high court’s ruling on campaign finance.

Next to a presidential inauguration, the State of the Union speech has similar stagecraft and drama. The president speaks before a joint session of Congress, and members of his Cabinet, foreign diplomats based in Washington, and assorted guests are attendance in the packed House chambers.

Scalia, the Supreme Court’s senior member and a Ronald Reagan appointee, said it is not uncommon for justices to skip the event. William Rehnquist often did not attend toward the end of his tenure as chief justice, he said.

Scalia said he doesn’t even write the date on his calendar. He said he has skipped the event since 1997.


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