Tonight, President Biden delivered the State of the Union Address. Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kagan, Justice Kavanaugh, Justice Barrett and Justice Jackson were in attendance. Justices Kennedy and Breyer were also present. When they entered, there was a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle.
Here’s SCOTUS @ the SOTU: pic.twitter.com/qohtTg2W7x
— Witches Truth Post ???? (@witchestruth) February 8, 2023
In the president’s address, there was only something about the Supreme Court. Here are his prepared comments:
Congress must take back the right that the Supreme Court took away last year and codify it Roe v. Wade to protect the constitutional right of every woman to choose. The Vice President and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and protect patient privacy. But more than a dozen states already implement extreme abortion bans. Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.
But Biden issued a watered-down version of these already tepid remarks:
Congress must restore the right that was taken from it Roe v. Wade and protect Roe v. Wade [applause] give every woman a [?] Law. The Vice President and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and protect patient safety. But more than a dozen states already implement extreme abortion bans. Make no mistake about it; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.
Biden calls on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade and condemn states that enforce extreme abortion bans.
“Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.” pic.twitter.com/IJcYUm2jgu
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 8, 2023
He did not say that the Supreme Court had taken away his right. He did not say that Congress should codify Roe v. Wade. And he didn’t even clearly say the constitutional right to choose. He only threatened to veto the bill, which will never be adopted. Alas, the camera did not cut to the judges while Biden was making these remarks, so there was no reaction. Biden did not repeat Obama’s 2010 State of the Union.
Biden did, however, joke about the chief justice issuing a court order so he could attend the Super Bowl.
“By the way, Chief Justice, I might need a court order. She’s going to the game next week, I’ve got to stay home. We’ve got to sort something out here” — Biden pic.twitter.com/3ykNJZCS0b
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2023
There was no mention of “court reform”. There is no mention of his vaunted Supreme Court commission. And no mention of his new Supreme Court appointee, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Or as he recently said, Ketanji drowned Jackson.
BIDEN: “Those are the words of Kejan— Kejan— Ketanji Drown Jackson, our Supreme Court Justice.” pic.twitter.com/Fbhk0pffsY
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 15, 2023
At 2:26:30 (on the C-SPAN feed), Biden returns to Justice. He says, “I’m sorry you had to go through that. I apologize.” Justice Kagan laughs loudly and the chief smiles.
“I’m sorry you had to sit there,” Biden jokes to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan before launching into a story with retired justices Breyer and Kennedy about the 1987 Supreme Court nomination battle + his private meeting with Reagan, who helped select him Kennedy. pic.twitter.com/Aa4Y6R1L3G
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) February 8, 2023
So much for using the bully pulpit to attack the Supreme Court.
Then, Biden asks Judge Breyer “are you okay.” Breyer says nodding, “yes.” Then Biden approaches Justice Kennedy and brings Justice Breyer back into the conversation. He then recounts the long story of Kennedy’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987. Biden told how he recommended then-Justice Kennedy to President Reagan.
All in all, this usually staid exercise was actually refreshing. It was nice to see Justices Kennedy and Breyer back in their element. And even though we are repeatedly told that the Supreme Court is an existential threat to democracy, Republicans and Democrats alike have cheered for the justices (including two Dobbs majority), and the president joked with the chief. Things are not so bad.