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
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.