Tuesday night’s presidential address before Congress was similar to past speeches, in that there were an abundance of applause breaks, where the audience gave standing ovations to the President after various statements that he made. One moment was out of the ordinary, however, because the active Supreme Court justices joined the applause. This was when President Donald Trump pointed out that Maureen Scalia, wife of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was in attendance.
As Scalia’s son Christopher pointed out on Twitter, it’s very rare for members of the Supreme Court to respond at all during a President’s address before Congress. They made an exception this time.
Justices never clap, let alone stand, during speeches to joint session, but they did for my mom. Beautiful. pic.twitter.com/JYDNzBtOdE
— Christopher J Scalia (@cjscalia) March 1, 2017
Justice Scalia was a polarizing figure when it came to his opinions, with a strict originalist’s approach to the Constitution expressed through bold language. When it came to him as a person and a scholar, however, he was respected by all.
Presidential speeches are often surrounded by a political storm, with the opposition party looking to nitpick and supporters glorifying every word. In the midst of that, it was refreshing to see everyone, even those who normally prefer to stay silent, come together to express their honor and gratitude.