There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices -- along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital -- both as a matter of perception and reality -- that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court's pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations.If I could take the liberty, I'd like to issue a stern head shake of my own. Greenwald is missing the point. Alito had already, by siding with the majority position in Citizens United, disagreed with what Obama said in that section of his speech. He had already made -- and voiced -- the decision that Obama was wrong in saying that the Supreme Court's decision effectively limited or perverted free speech.
Alito was fully within his rights to shake his head. Indeed, as Althouse notes, it was indecorous of President Obama to so vehemently attack the Court in a speech that should have instead focused on politics"
I think that if they knew they were going to have to listen to that kind of in-your-face disrespect, they wouldn't have done the President the honor of sitting there, providing the scenery. But they were there, and I'm not going to criticize Alito for moving his lips and letting us see a silent defense of the judicial branch of government.