Justice Ginsburg Opts to Skip Trump’s Speech to Congress

  • Roberts, four other Supreme Court justices expected to attend
  • Ginsburg attended all of Obama’s addresses to lawmakers

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg always hugged President Barack Obama before his speeches to Congress. She doesn’t even plan to attend President Donald Trump’s first one.

Ginsburg, who called Trump a "faker" during his campaign, intends to skip Tuesday night’s speech, leaving it to five of her colleagues to represent the court.

Chief Justice John Roberts will join Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in attendance, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg confirmed. All are regulars at the annual event. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito aren’t planning to attend, continuing their past practice.

Alito hasn’t gone to a speech since 2010, the year Obama criticized the justices’ just-issued Citizens United campaign-finance ruling. Obama accused the court of ignoring a century of precedent, a claim that prompted Alito to shake his head and mouth "not true" as Democratic lawmakers directly behind the justices rose to cheer.

Thomas has gone sporadically over the years and hasn’t attended since Obama’s first speech in 2009. He said in 2010 the event had become so partisan that "it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there."

Roberts later likened the presidential addresses to a “political pep rally” and questioned whether justices should continue to attend. Even so, the chief justice hasn’t missed a speech.

Ginsburg, a 1993 appointee of Democrat Bill Clinton, also skipped Republican President George W. Bush’s speeches. She attended all eight of Obama’s.

Her attendance Tuesday night could have created an awkward moment given that the president typically greets members of the court before the speech. Trump called on Ginsburg to resign after she made the “faker” comment during the campaign.

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