(CNN)Chief Justice John Roberts, who once told an audience that he thought the State of the Union address had "degenerated into a political pep rally," nevertheless joined five of his colleagues to listen to President Obama's address Tuesday night.
A 6-3 Supreme Court majority attends the State of the Union
Some justices find the event difficult to sit through because members of the Court often must sit quietly refraining from applause lines out of fear that their impartiality might later be questioned.
In 2010, Roberts told students at the University of Alabama that while he thought "anybody" can criticize the Supreme Court, the backdrop of the State of the Union might not be the best setting.
"The image of having members of one branch of government standing up literally surrounding the Supreme Court cheering and hollering," Roberts said "is troubling." Roberts' criticism was prompted by the 2010 address when President Obama openly criticized the controversial campaign finance decision, Citizens United. As Obama spoke, cameras caught Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head "no" in dissent.
Since that address, Alito has refrained from attending the event.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were also no shows this year.
"It has turned into a childish spectacle," Scalia told an audience in 2013. "I don't want to be there to lend dignity to it," he said.
Besides the Chief, Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kenney, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor attended this year.