Should Supreme Court Justices Attend the State of the Union?


Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito skipped last year's State of the Union Address so he could give a speech in Hawaii, though his absence was perhaps also inspired by his annoyance at President Barack Obama during the 2010 address, where Alito famously mouthed the words "not true" when Obama misstated the facts about the Court's Citizens United decision. But that's all water under the bridge, right? Won't Alito at least turn up for tomorrow night's State of the Union proceedings? Don't count on it, writes Adam Liptak of The New York Times, who notes that Alito thinks the whole State of the Union format is ripe for abuse:

Attendance can be stressful. The justices say they must make careful and largely coordinated choices about what statements from the president are uncontroversial enough to warrant applause.

That is hard, Justice Alito said, because presidents "will fake you out." They may start with something bland, he said, like, " 'Isn't this the greatest country in the world?'"

"So you get up and you start to clap," he said, "and the president will say, 'because we are conducting a surge in Iraq' or 'because we are going to enact health care reform' and then you immediately have to stop."

Judicial fake-out sounds to me like a promising new category in Reason's State of the Union drinking game. But just in case we don't get anything that enjoyable tomorrow night, why not relive the Alito-Obama showdown one more time right now: