White House: Supreme Court Justices Chose to be at State of the Union

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts address students at the University of Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 9, 2010. AP

John Roberts
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts address students at the University of Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 9, 2010.
AP

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has again hit back at Chief Justice John Roberts' comments concerning President Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court at his State of the Union address.

Gibbs said Thursday that the president's speech didn't seem like a "pep rally" to him and noted that the Justices were not forced to attend.

On Tuesday, Roberts, at left, told a group of law students that the scene at the State of the Union, where Mr. Obama criticized a Supreme Court decision concerning campaign financing, was "very troubling."

"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 said. He said the speech had "degenerated to a political pep rally" and added, "I'm not sure why we're there."

(For the record, that's not exactly what happened: While most of the justices were expressionless when Mr. Obama delivered his criticism, Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed the words "not true.")

Asked about Roberts' comments Thursday, Gibbs said, "It didn't seem like a pep rally to me."

"I don't know why they'd feel uncomfortable, they made the decision" to be at the speech, Gibbs said of the justices. "Look, the president disagreed, and polls show 80 percent of the country disagrees with that decision. The president would have said that in that room had they been sitting in that row or not been there at all."

On Tuesday, Gibbs also addressed Roberts' comments.

"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 in a statement. "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."

CBS News' Jan Crawford: White House Vs. Supreme Court -- It's Getting Ridiculous

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.