Free Markets, Free People

SCOTUS Chief grumbles

Chief justice John Roberts is obviously not happy about the SCOTUS being the focus of an attack by the President during the State of the Union address recently and said so in answer to a question after a lecture at the University of Alabama law school:

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.

The whole point, of course, is the term “breaking from tradition”. What Roberts objects too isn’t the criticism, it’s the manner and place in which the criticism was leveled. I think it is a fair point.

And it is interesting to me that the one who got heat from the press was Justice Alito for mouthing the words “not true” – not Barack Obama for “breaking from tradition”.

My guess is this year’s SOTU may be the last one for some of the justices, at least for the near future:

“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.

I’d bet it may be 3 of 9 next year. The Supreme Court isn’t a subordinate branch of government. It is a co-equal branch. I can imagine the outcry from the administration if the court criticized the administration and its policies from the bench. That sort of criticism is traditionally avoided. It also points out that Obama’s confrontational attitude isn’t only reserved for the GOP. And for a post-partisan president who claims to want to change the way business is done in Washington, this isn’t the way to do that.

That said, I wouldn’t want to be representing the administration in the SCOTUS anytime soon on a controversial issue that the court must hear. I would imagine that some on the court will come as close as tradition allows to making the point that two can play this game. Of course the difference will be it won’t be on national TV in prime time.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

24 Responses to SCOTUS Chief grumbles

  • Wow, the justices have thin skins under those robes.   Where was the outcry when Ronald Reagan consistently criticized Roe v Wade?   The double standards grow deeper and thicker…

    • Perhaps if Roe Vs. Wade had been decided in 1983 instead of 1973, and Reagan had mischaracterized (some uncharitable folks would say lied about) and condemned the decision in a State of the Union message, a forum where the supremes could not defend themselves(real courage there),  there would have been more of an outcry. And there was an outcry. There always is when the Sacred Rite is criticized.

      And speaking of mischaracterization,  crap like this is why we despise you. It is not even good crap. 

      • Ronald Reagan certainly criticized Roe v Wade.  So you say first: a) it’s OK if it was a decision renedered longer ago; and b) the SOTU speech was the wrong place.  Then you throw in the mandatory personal insult because, well, that’s who you are.   I find the first point less compelling than the second.  I can see reason to avoid doing it at the SOTU speech, though I think the right over-reacted.

        • No, No, No, Scott.  Roberts specifically said criticism of the court was OK.  What he was complaining about was the venue of a very partisan SOTU as well as the Democrats jumping up around the Justices to cheer while the Justices could not defend themselves.
          There is absolutely no equivalence between the Obama approach and the Regan approach.  Frankly, if you think there is, I feel sorry for your students.  They are being miseducated.

    • Wow, you can’t read.

      • Oh, he reads just fine, his problem is comprehension.

        • No, looker, he comprehends just fine.  He’s deliberately misrepresenting the incident to make his hero look better.
          Besides, tu quoque is the only defense he’s got in this case.

    • Scott, thin-skinned is when you send out your proxies — including a former President and a former presidential candidate — to call those who oppose your proposed legislation “racists.” Thin-skinned is when you have people in your administration go out and attack the one news network that isn’t in the tank for you. Thin-skinned is when you have a top adivisor call a coordinated White House attack on a news network “speaking truth to power,” which is delusional in addition to thin-skinned.

      It is not thin-skinned to quietly object well after the fact to being treated shabbily by the President when you are representing the independent judiciary at a State of the Union Address. 

    • You guys are just jealous of my godlike powers of political science that enable me to zero in like a hawk on the heart of the matter. The same way I will many, many times in my online course, which you all really ought to take. So just go on over there and read the extensive description of all the topics I’ll be covering, as well as common questions and answers about the course, and prepare to be dazzled by my brilliance.

      You won’t believe how much you will learn. Stop laughing! You sound like Woody Woodpercker!

      • “You sound like Woody Woodpercker!”

        There you go again with the ad hominem attacks. At least this one is a little more original, although the spelling is a bit off. And it is a bit gauche to constantly promote yourself.

    • You still haven’t named 3 Obama foreign policy successes and is the science still settled?

  • Wow, Reagan “consistently criticized” Roe vs. Wade in the SOTU?  Really

    Actually, giving him extra credit for his “State of the Economy” speech in 1981 (a year he normally wouldn’t have given a SOTU), he mentions Roe v. Wade exactly ZERO times in SOTU addresses from 1981 – 88.

    He mentioned abortions in exactly 3 SOTU addresses:

    1984 – “During our first 3 years, we have joined bipartisan efforts to restore protection of the law to unborn children. Now, I know this issue is very controversial. But unless and until it can be proven that an unborn child is not a living human being, can we justify assuming without proof that it isn’t? No one has yet offered such proof; indeed, all the evidence is to the contrary. We should rise above bitterness and reproach, and if  Americans could come together in a spirit of understanding and helping, then we could find positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion.”

    1985 – The question of abortion grips our nation. Abortion is either the taking of a human life or it isn’t. And if it is—and medical technology is increasingly showing it is—it must be stopped. It is a terrible irony that while some turn to abortion, so many others who cannot become parents cry out for children to adopt. We have room for these children. We can fill the cradles 
    of those who want a child to love. And tonight I ask you in the Congress to move this year on legislation to protect the unborn.”

    1988 – “Well, now we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America—a good nation, a moral people—to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman’s right to control of her own body: Can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all Federal funding for abortion and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense. But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family  life to millions of Americans so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them.”

    Compare that to what Obama did:

    “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. ”

    Notice the difference?

  • One of the things I most appreciate about Obama is that he has even less of a relationship with the truth than Bill Clinton. Clinton seemed to believe that he could always lie his way out of anything. Obama seems to believe that by lying he actually changes reality itself, such that it isn’t lying because once he says something it becomes true.

    I always said about Obama, just wait until those presidential steroids kick in, then you’ll see what a true mess of a human being he is.


    • Can you imagine if one of the Justices had “flipped him off” ??
      .. or perhaps stood up and turned their back to him.

      • No, Neo, it seems those actions, like flipping people off, are actions our President enjoys.  I guess he feels it elevates him!

      • I can imagine it, but they had too much class to fulfill my fantasy.

  • Roberts is a whiny little piece of $#@!.  The president did his job: he used his bully pulpit to make his voice heard on a contentious issue.  This horrific SCOTUS decision must remain in the public eye.  Obama is trying to keep it there.  The corporate media (sur-prise, sur-prise!) barely even paid attention to it.  This is a serious matter.

    Money is not speech.

    Corporations are not citizens.

    Keep up rthe good work, Obama.  Screw “decorum.”  That’s for whiny little $#!%s.