Supreme Court justices received applause just now, as they entered the House chamber for the State of the Union address. But advance hints about the speech by President Obama suggest he won't be cheering. He is expected to take a swipe at the Court for its ruling last Thursday in Citizens United v. FEC, accusing the Court of opening the floodgates of special interest money into campaigns. He'll ask for support from Democrats and Republicans to undo the decision, which said that bans on independent expenditures from corporations violate their First Amendment rights.
The attendance rate of justices varies widely from year to year, occasionally even with no justices at all on hand. Tonight we spotted Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., Justice Anthony Kennedy -- author of Citizens United -- as well as Samuel Alito Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.
UPDATE: A reader asks why the justices don't join in the applause during the State of the Union address. That's a longstanding tradition, driven by two interests: first, they do not want to seem partisan by applauding initiatives that one or another party is pushing. And second, you never know which of those initiatives might turn into legislation that might end up on the Court's docket for interpretation.