President Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday will be missing at least one important audience member: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg has a previously-scheduled speaking engagement in Rhode Island on Tuesday and so will not be attending the speech in Washington, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Ginsburg attended all eight of former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speeches — including in 2015 when she fell asleep because, as she admitted, she “wasn’t 100% sober.”
But it’s not unheard of for Supreme Court justices to skip out on presidential speeches — Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas skipped out on Trump’s address to Congress last year, and the late Antonin Scalia stopped attending State of the Union ceremonies between 1997 and his death in 2016.
More unusually, a few Democratic members of Congress will be formally boycotting the speech, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday that she was not going in protest of Trump’s Muslim ban, failure to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia and using obscene language to refer to African countries.
Trump has “disrespected millions and millions of Americans and the presidency itself,” Schakowsky said. She added that members of Congress should not attend his speech “just for the sake of politeness.”
Other members of Congress who have announced they are skipping Trump’s speech are Reps. John Lewis, Maxine Waters, Frederica Wilson and Earl Blumenauer.