From the 2010 News Archive
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Prof. Ifill on MSNBC: High Court at the State of the Union

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday that he found the atmosphere "very troubling" at January's State of the Union Address, during which President Obama criticized the high court. He questioned why justices attend the annual event. "To the extent it has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we're there."

In a March 10 appearance on MSNBC, Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, a nationally recognized expert in the importance of judicial diversity and impartiality in judicial decision-making, responded.

Watch Professor Ifill's appearance on MSNBC.

"Many of us were made uncomfortable by the scene that Justice Roberts described, of Congressmen standing up and cheering a criticism while the Supreme Court sat there," she said.

"The reality is that the court doesn't often have to face the public. This is one of the few occasions in which they do, and I think our Supreme Court and our democracy is strong enough to survive the court sitting there for one evening a year and facing - on some occasions - some derision from the members of Congress. It's not at all harmful to our democracy."

Professor Ifill is nationally recognized as an advocate in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, judicial diversity and judicial decision-making. Professor Ifill also writes about the history of racial violence and contemporary reconciliation efforts. Her book about truth and reconciliation commissions for lynching, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century was released by Beacon Books in 2007.


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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved