Four Supreme Court justices absent from State of the Union address

 February 8, 2023

Members of the House and Senate came together on Tuesday night to hear President Joe Biden to give his second State of the Union address. However, some major government figures were conspicuous in their absence.

According to Fox News, four Supreme Court justices decided not to show up for the president's speech. 

Three of of the four missing justices were appointed by Republicans

The network noted that Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch were not in attendance on Tuesday evening.

While all three justices were nominated by Republican presidents, the Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor was also absent.

In contrast, Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Justices Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson all came out to hear the president speak.

Like Sotomayor, Kagan was appointed by former President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Jackson represents the first and thus far only Supreme Court nominee of Biden's presidency.

Thomas rarely attends State of the Union speeches, calls them "very uncomfortable"

Newsweek noted in an article on Wednesday that Thomas' absence was not unusual, as the long-time conservative justice typically does not attend State of the Union addresses regardless of which party is in power.

Exceptions included former President George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech as well as an address made by Obama in 2009 to a joint session of Congress regarding that year's financial crisis.

"I don't go because it has become so partisan and it's very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there," Thomas was quoted as telling students at Florida's at Stetson University College of Law in 2010.

The justice added that "there's a lot that you don't hear on TV," such as "the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments."

Some GOP lawmakers jeer Biden over comments about drug crisis

Fox News reported that Biden was met with heckling from Republicans at several points during his speech, such as when he decried America's ongoing drug crisis.

After the president declared that "fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year," some GOP lawmakers responded by blaming Biden's border policies, with one yelling, "It's your fault!"

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