Justice Breyer: ‘Very important’ to attend State of the Union address
At least one Supreme Court Justice will be attending next year’s State of the Union address.
Justice Stephen Breyer suggested Sunday that other justices shouldn’t let President Barack Obama’s criticism of the court keep them away from the annual speech.
The remarks appeared to be a rebuttal to his colleague, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who has said he won’t attend President Obama’s next State of the Union address.
“My job, Chris, is to write opinions,” Breyer told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in a rare interview. “The job of 307 million Americans is to criticize those opinions. What they say is up to them. The words I write are carrying out my job under the law as best I can. That’s true of my colleagues.”
“I’ll go next year. I’ve gone every year. I think it’s very, very, very important, very important for us to show up at that State of the Union because people today, as you know, are more and more visual,” Breyer said.
“I’d like them to read, but they are visual. And what they see in front of them in that State of the Union is the federal government, every part. The president, the Congress, the cabinet, military, and I would like them to see the judges, too, because federal judges are also part of the government. I want to be there,” he said.
During his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama criticized the court’s Citizens United decision which said that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts cannot be limited.
“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week 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.
“Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps corrects some of these problems,” he added.
While Democratic lawmakers cheered for the president’s remarks, Justice Samuel Alito could be seen mouthing the words “not true.”
Weeks later, Chief Justice John Roberts said the address had “degenerated to a political pep rally.”
“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 to the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling,” Roberts said to University of Alabama law students.
“That’s his opinion,” Breyer said Sunday. “He says what he thinks. I say what I think and what I think is what I said. I’ll be there next year.”
This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast Dec. 12, 2010.