Speaking at the University of Alabama Law School Tuesday, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts touched on several noteworthy topics, including the tradition of justices of the High Court attending the president’s annual State of the Union address. He called President Obama’s first such address, in which the president criticized the Supreme Court for its ruling on corporate campaign financing, “very troubling.” The annual speech on Capitol Hill has “degenerated into a political pep rally,” Roberts said.
According to the Associated Press, Roberts said: “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 gave his thoughts on the way the Senate confirms justices. He cited the tendency of some senators to politicize the process with questions they know can’t be answered because of judicial ethics rules.
“I think the process is broken down,” Roberts said.
In other remarks, Roberts made light of a recent rumor that he was leaving the court and also said he didn’t know until he reached law school that he in fact wanted to be a lawyer.
Roberts is the ninth justice since 1996 to lecture at Alabama.