Chief Justice John Roberts found State of the Union scene 'troubling'

By Associated Press
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TUSCALOOSA, ALA. -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said Tuesday that the scene at President Obama's State of the Union address was "very troubling" and that the annual speech has "degenerated to a political pep rally."

Obama chided the Supreme Court in his Jan. 27 speech, with the justices seated before him, for a campaign finance case decision.

"The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering," Roberts told University of Alabama law students, "while the court -- according to the requirements of protocol -- has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."

Breaking from tradition, Obama criticized the court's decision that allows corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. responded by shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded later Tuesday, "What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections -- drowning out the voices of average Americans."

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