Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chief Justice Roberts: SOTU scene "very troubling"

In the State of the Union address, President Obama took an almost unprecedented swipe at the Supreme Court.  Speaking to law students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts struck back:
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts says the scene at this year's State of the Union address by President Obama was "very troubling," and he wonders if justices should even attend in the future.

With members of the court seated before him in the House chamber, Obama chided the court in January for its decision that corporations and unions could freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates.

Speaking to law students Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Roberts said anyone is free to criticize the court. But he said the scene of a president dressing down the court in front of Congress was "very troubling."

Roberts said he wonders if justices should attend State of the Union speeches.
More from the Associated Press:
Responding to a University of Alabama law student's question, Roberts said anyone was free to criticize the court, and some have an obligation to do so because of their positions.

"So I have no problems with that," he said. "On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum.

"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 the requirements of protocol - has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."

Breaking from tradition, Obama criticized the court's decision that allows corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates.

"With all due deference to the separation of powers the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said in January.

Justice Samuel Alito was the only justice to respond at the time, shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true" as Obama continued.

Roberts told the students he wonders whether justices should attend the speeches.

"I'm not sure why we're there," said Roberts, a Republican nominee who joined the court in 2005.

Justice Antonin Scalia once said he no longer goes to the annual speech because the justices "sit there like bumps on a log" in an otherwise highly partisan atmosphere. Six of the nine justices attended Obama's address.

1 comment:

  1. I would understand if they didn't want to attend. I don't even watch them on television.
    The whole idea of "the state of the union" address is outdated, with the speed of news these days. It is just another political stump.