How should Americans and, in particular, lawyers, react to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito shaking his head and clearly mouthing the words "It’s not true" during the State of the Union Address by the President of the United States? It happened when the President said

"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open Ailto the floodgates for special interests….."

Suppose you and I were in the audience area of the U.S. Supreme Court while Justice Alito is asserting something to one of the lawyers arguing a case. You and I began shaking our heads in opposition to what he is saying and clearly mouth the words "It’s not true" to the Justice. Do you think Justice Alito would simply ignore it? How likely is it we would be ejected or even found in contempt? If we were lawyers, you could count on being severely disciplined for such disrespectful conduct to a member of the Supreme Court. He would be justified in being offended that we exhibited such rude and disrespectful behavior during an important Supreme Court hearing.

Yet, he apparently feels it’s perfectly OK for him to act in a very rude and disrespectful manner to the President of the United States during a State of the Union Address because he can’t take the criticism being voiced across the country about the opinion in question. His reaction to having the opinion questioned tells us a lot about his character and his idea of his own self importance. The 5-4 opinion in question is highly controversial, yet even a mild rebuke was enough to produce a childish reaction. While appointed for life, members of the court are not royalty and are expected to conduct themselves in proper judicial manner. I believe Justice Alito owes the President an apology for bad manners and very un-judicial conduct.


  1. I would say your amazing career has been a living tribute to Mr Bannister. He sounds like he left quite a legacy in the legal world. I enjoyed reading how your firm got started and has progressed through the years. I smiled when I saw Susan Cook’s name. I sat on a jury Judge Cook presided over and she made quite an impression. During voir dire the defense counsel repeatedly mispronounced my name and I was reluctant to correct him. Finally Judge Cook interrupted his stammering attempt and pronounced my name for him. “Babarovich.” she said perfectly and then she turned to me “Sorry, Mrs. Babarovich, apparently Mr. So&So hasn’t spent much time on the other side of the bridge.” It was hard to keep a straight face and it made me her fan for life. Side note: Sitting on that jury actually became my favorite service because in addition to the memory of Judge Cook’s wonderful comment, I managed to turn the jury verdict around from guilty to not guilty. I’m sure this is probably one of the stories my family gets tired of hearing but I revel in that memory. I think it’s ironic that I ended up helping the defense attorney who couldn’t pronounce my name…and he’ll never know it.

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