During a talk at the University of Alabama yesterday, Chief Justice John Roberts went ballistic, relatively, over President Obama’s State of the Union speech, in which the president condemned the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on corporate political spending. Roberts said he was fine with anyone criticizing the court, but:
“On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum. The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court according the requirements of protocol has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling.”
Roberts also added that he wasn’t sure why justices are still attending a speech that has “denigrated into a political pep rally.” Granted, it’s not exactly an epic smackdown, but it’s still more aggressive than Samuel Alito silently mouthing “not true” to himself. For a Supreme Court justice, calling something “troubling” is like normal people calling it “total bullshit.” And White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs wasn’t going to let it slide, which is why he released this somewhat milquetoast rebuttal:
“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,” Gibbs said. “The President has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response.”
What’s important to remember is that this feud goes back years. When President Obama was a senator, he voted against the confirmation of John Roberts because, he said, Roberts “far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.” Later, Roberts “accidentally” screwed up the most important, memorable moment of Obama’s life by flubbing the Oath of Office. Obama had his revenge at the State of the Union, and now Roberts is publicly questioning Obama’s grasp of decorum. With each man now plotting the next way he can undermine the other, this is a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.