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6 justices of Supreme Court to attend speech

By Bill Mears, CNN Senior Producer
  • Justice Samuel Alito will give speech in Hawaii during president's speech
  • He was jurist who appeared to respond to Obama in 2010
  • Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas will not be there

Washington (CNN) -- Six Supreme Court justices will attend the State of the Union address, according to a court spokesperson. This follows a yearlong controversy over the traditional presence of members of the high court, following direct criticism of the bench by President Barack Obama at the 2010 address.

Among those not attending is Justice Samuel Alito, who has a previously scheduled speaking engagement in Hawaii.

He was among the conservative justices sitting just feet away from Obama when the president attacked a majority ruling on campaign finance reform. Cameras showed Alito appearing to mouth the words "not true" at Obama's assertion the opinion would open the floodgates to uncontrolled corporate spending in federal elections.

Chief Justice John Roberts later criticized the fact the president's remarks were made in such a setting, a situation he found "troubling." He wondered aloud whether he should continue to attend as he has every year since joining the court in 2005. He was expected to be at Tuesday's address, say government sources, along with fellow conservative Anthony Kennedy.

All four members of the so-called liberal wing of the court are set to take their places in the House chamber for the annual speech, including newest justice Elena Kagan, nominated to the court last year by Obama.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas traditionally do not attend. Another regular no-show was John Paul Stevens, before he retired in June.