Tales from the Trail

Supreme Court votes 6-3 on attending Obama’s speech

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Six U.S. Supreme Court justices plan to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, the same number as last year when Obama criticized the court’s┬ácorporate political spending ruling.

There had been speculation that fewer justices might show up after Obama’s rare rebuke for the ruling by the conservative majority striking down corporate election spending limits.

A court spokeswoman said six of the nine justices plan on going. She said one who won’t be attending is Justice Samuel Alito, who happens to be in Hawaii this week for a previously scheduled law school speech.

Alito last year shook his head and appeared to mouth the words “not true” when Obama said the ruling “reversed a century of law” and “will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limits in our elections.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas traditionally never attend the presidential State of the Union speech, which is given right across the street from the Supreme Court in the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Supreme Court turns to question of beaches and hot dogs

WEATHER KATRINAFor all practical purposes, it was like a day at the beach for the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as the justices considered Florida’s program to bring in sand to save miles of eroding shorelines.

A lawyer for six homeowners in Florida’s Walton County argued the program resulted in a strip of state-owned sand between their property and the Gulf of Mexico, depriving them of their exclusive beach access and violating their rights.

The homeowners want the state to pay them undetermined compensation for the “taking” of their property. But some of the court’s liberals appeared skeptical of the argument.

Biden pulls U.S. Supreme Court card in election fight

DENVER – Vice presidential candidate Joe Biden is urging voters to think about what type of justices they want on the U.S. Supreme Court before they decide who they want in the White House.rtr21p7h.jpg

Biden said U.S. President George W. Bush’s two conservative appointees — Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito — have pushed the nation’s highest court far to the right.

This, Biden charged, has threatened civil liberties and set back efforts to desegregate schools and obtain equal pay for women.