Presented By

Three Supreme Court justices skipped President Donald Trump‘s first address to a joint session of Congress: conservatives Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas and liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Not attending is unusual for Ginsburg, who attended all eight speeches during President Barack Obama’s tenure, famously falling asleep at a 2015 address because she “wasn’t 100 percent sober.”

But Ginsburg has been harshly critical of Trump, joking during the campaign that she would move to New Zealand if he won and recently saying the country is “not experiencing the best of times.”

Alito stopped attending the State of the Union and other joint speeches to Congress after a notable moment at Obama’s 2010 address. After Obama criticized the court’s decision to loosen campaign finance laws in Citizens United, Alito was seen shaking his head and mouthing “not true.”

Alito later said that the ceremony was too awkward, with justices sitting there “like the proverbial potted plant,” and complained that justices look unpatriotic if they don’t clap but also risk looking partisan if they do.

Thomas has long skipped these addresses, arguing that they are “partisan.”

“I don’t go because it has become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there,” he said in 2010. “There’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV — the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments.”

A court spokeswoman told Bloomberg that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would attend.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at

You May Also Like