She Hasn’t Shown Up At Either Of The President’s Two Previous Addresses To Joint Sessions Of Congress.. .
Not last year’s State of the Union, not Trump’s 2017 post-inaugural address. None of the State of the Unions when George W. Bush was President. Not many when Bill Clinton was.
We’ve been meaning to point this out for several days, as we’ve grown weary of right-wing pundits, particularly former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka insisting that Ginsburg: “has to make her official appearance“. As if it’s an obligation for Supreme Court Justices. It isn’t. Yet Gorka and others seem to be going virtually unchallenged on their remarks, implying if she doesn’t show up, that’ll mean something really bad’s going on that’s being hidden.
Frankly, we had kind of forgotten about this whole thing over the weekend, until the Washington Post reminded us late Monday night, when it ran a story about Justice Ginsburg making her first public appearance since undergoing lung cancer surgery in December.
The event was a program performed and created by Justice Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law, called “Notorious RBG in Song”. (The photo below is not from that event.)
Post reporter Robert Barnes speculates based on her track record of not showing up for many State of the Unions (although all of President Obama’s), Justice Ginsburg likely will not be there tonight. But he also recalls that back in 2009, she made a point of attending after Republican Senator Jim Bunning suggested she only had 9 months to live. Then.
Now of course there’s no way of knowing the exact status of the 85-year old Justice’s health, and we’re sure conspiracy theorists are already squawking feverishly about how the Ginsburg at the performance tonight might’ve been a body-double or whatever.
But if Justice Clarence Thomas turns up at the State of the Union–which he may very well do given the growing closeness between his wife, Ginni, an ultra-Conservative activist, and President Trump–it’ll be the first time he’s done so in almost a decade. According to the New York Times, Ginni Thomas brought members of her far-right group to the Oval Office, following a dinner with President Trump, Melania Trump, and Justice Thomas. Even with all the recent changes, he’s still considered to be the most Conservative on the court.
Although it’s customary to see some Supreme Court Justices enter the chamber and stay seated throughout the event, it’s not mandatory.
Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who seems to have taken it upon himself to single-handedly preserve the integrity of the court, and has been at almost every State of the Union speech since George W. Bush appointed him, has questioned the value and appropriateness of Supreme Court Justices being part of the political spectacle. A couple of years ago, according to the Post, Roberts reflected:
“To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we are there.”