Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito hasn’t been to a State of the Union Address since 2010 because he finds them “awkward,” but this year during the speech Alito was signing a court order to stay the execution of Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on two petitions regarding Smulls’ execution on Wednesday, and Alito temporarily delayed the execution in advance of the ruling, the Missouri Attorney General’s office told the Associated Press.
Alito attended his last State of the Union speech in 2010, when he mouthed “not true” after President Obama criticized the Citizens United v. FEC ruling.
After the incident, Alito said he didn’t like sitting through political speeches “like the proverbial potted plant.”
Alito was one of four Supreme Court Justices who skipped the address. Sonia Sotomayer was traveling, while Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia have both skipped the past few State of the Union speeches.