|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday the scene at President Obama's State of the Union address was "very troubling" and the annual speech has "degenerated to a political pep rally."
Obama chided the court, with the justices seated before him in their black robes, for its decision on a campaign finance case.
Responding to a University of Alabama law student's question, Roberts said anyone was free to criticize the court, and some have an obligation to do so because of their positions.
"So I have no problems with that," he said. "On the other hand, 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."
Breaking from tradition, Obama criticized the court's decision that allows corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates.
"With all due deference to the separation of powers the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said in January.
Justice Samuel Alito was the only justice to respond at the time, shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true" as Obama continued.
Roberts told the students he wonders whether justices should attend the speeches.
"I'm not sure why we're there," said Roberts, a Republican nominee who joined the court in 2005.