“With All Due Deference to Separation of Powers”
As Gerard points out, of the many interesting facets of President Obama’s State of the Union last night (Biden’s choice of a purple tie to signal renewed bipartisan vigor; Justice Ginsburg nodding off, at points, in the front row; Nancy Pelosi’s cold; etc.), Justice Alito’s reaction to the Obama smack-down of Citizens United may have been among the most riveting.
What really intrigued me, however, was not Alito’s reaction, but Obama’s decision to directly criticize a recently decided case with members of the Supreme Court sitting directly below him. Indeed, when he chastised the Court, all of the members of Congress around the justices stood and clapped (see minute 46:07 here). Obama’s speech writers seemed to sense that this might not seem kosher to some observers and so they had him open his commentary on the case with the caution, “With all due deference to separation of powers . . .”
For the historians out there, I’m wondering how often other presidents have criticized the Supreme Court during State of the Union addresses or in other face-to-face interactions.
For everyone else, leaving aside your specific feelings about Citizens United, do you think that Obama’s choice to chastise the justices during the State of the Union is a threat to separation of powers?