Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not attend President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening, continuing her unbroken streak of skipping addresses given by Republican presidents before Congress.
Ginsburg was appointed to the high court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993. She did not sit for former President George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses, though she resumed attendance during the Obama years, where she typically greeted the president with a hug.
During last year’s general election campaign, Ginsburg characterized Trump as a “faker” and a “phony,” soliciting widespread criticism among court-watchers.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be, I can’t imagine what the country would be, with Donald Trump as our president,” she told The New York Times.
Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan were present for the president’s speech. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were not in attendance, in keeping with their longstanding tradition of skipping such events. Thomas and Alito have each expressed in various forums that the presence of the Supreme Court at a political event is, at best, incongruous.
The chief justice suggested as much during an event at the University of Alabama in 2010, just months after former President Barack Obama criticized the justices during his own State of the Union address, in a startling and unprecedented breach of decorum.
“It does cause me to think whether or not it makes sense for us to be there,” Roberts said. “To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there.”
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