Scalia: State of the Union Speech 'Has Turned Into a Childish Spectacle'

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 11:43 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once again stayed away from the State of the Union address, slamming the event for having “turned into a childish spectacle.”

Scalia has not gone to hear the speech for the past 16 years, reports the Huffington Post, saying he doesn't “want to be there to lend dignity to it.”

The justice has often spoken about his feelings on the presidential address, but on Tuesday, he scheduled his remarks for about the same time that President Barack Obama would be speaking. He appeared at a talk sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates and moderated by National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg. The event was one of many public appearances the justices are making during their winter recess, and Scalia said the timing was a coincidence.

“I didn't set this up tonight just to upstage the president,” said Scalia. “The State of the Union is not something I mark on my calendar like Easter or Yom Kippur.”

Scalia, who was nominated for the court in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan, is the senior associate justice, having served longest on the court.

He said justices who do attend the State of the Union speech usually keep their eyes on the chief justice, who decides when it is appropriate to clap.

Justices can applaud if the president makes a noncontroversial statement, such as noting the United States is a great country, Scalia said. But justices can't clap “if it's anything anybody can disagree with.”



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