Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

All justices should attend addresses

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During the president’s State of the Union address, I noticed one thing that, I think, symbolizes the dysfunction of our government. Not all nine of the Supreme Court justices attended.

This has happened at all of Obama’s State of the Union addresses and is not uncommon. In fact, since the modern State of the Union began, only five speeches have been attended by all of the justices. At a few addresses, there were no justices in attendance.

I propose, starting with the next State of the Union, all the justices should attend and they should keep attending every State of the Union thereafter. Having all three branches assembled virtually in their entirety is an important symbol.

Supreme Court justices have a lifetime appointment, so showing some humility once a year isn’t out of order. Some justices feel uncomfortable because decorum demands that they sit quietly. The justices get the final word in every decision. One day a year, they can be quiet and listen (which is required of everyone else attending sessions of the Supreme Court).

Finally, some justices have complained that the State of the Union has become a political show. Actors on the largest and most powerful political stage are certainly tougher than that. They were appointed by politicians and it is naive to think that they were elevated to the Supreme Court without some political maneuvering of their own. They should set an example for all the members of our government and put the needs of the people over their own petty grievances and political desires.

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