WASHINGTON -- In remarks to the conservative Federalist Society on Thursday night, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia decried the "juvenile spectacle" that is now the State of the Union address, saying he believes it is inappropriate for justices to attend the annual tradition.
Comparing the gatherings to "cheerleading sessions," Scalia said, "I don't know at what point that happened, but it did happen, and now you go and sit there like bumps on a log while applause lines cause one half the Congress to leap up while [another] causes the other half to leap up. ... It is a juvenile spectacle. And I resent being called upon to the indignity."
Sitting in the audience at the dinner at the Omni Shoreham Hotel was Scalia's colleague, Justice Samuel Alito, who famously mouthed the words "not true" when the president criticized the court's Citizens United decision in his 2010 State of the Union address.
After a flurry of controversy, Alito said he will no longer be attending these gatherings because justices are expected to sit there awkwardly "like the proverbial potted plant." He also said that some of his colleagues "who are more disciplined refrain from manifesting any emotion or opinion whatsoever." Neither Scalia nor Thomas have attended State of the Union addresses in recent years, and John Paul Stevens used to also refrain.
On Thursday, Scalia declined to explicitly advise his younger colleagues about going to the State of the Union address, acknowledging it's a lot easier to stay away "when the president giving the State of the Union is not the man who appointed you."
The discussion at the dinner -- an interview between Scalia and CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford -- stayed away from many hot-button political issues that might appear before the court, although Scalia repeatedly made clear that he is firmly against having cameras in the courtroom.
Referencing one of the chief proponents of such a move, Scalia joked at the beginning of the interview that "[Arlen] Specter has left the Senate," which received loud applause and cheers. Scalia clarified that it wasn't meant to be a partisan retort, which elicited more laughter.
The justices have come under fire for being less than technologically savvy, but on Thursday, Scalia made clear that he doesn't toil away with a quill and parchment, saying he does all his work on the computer, owns an iPod (on which he loads classical music) and frequently uses an iPad.
"I have an iPad on which the staff stores all of the briefs, so I don't have the schlep the briefs home with me," he said. "It's a great new world. It really is."
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