Ruth Bader Ginsburg skipping Trump's State of the Union address

Image: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks to first year Georgetown University law students in Washington, DC.Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images file

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By Dartunorro Clark

The Notorious RBG will be noticeably MIA when President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Instead, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will deliver a "fireside chat" for students and faculty at the Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island.

Ginsburg, a leader of court's liberal wing, has clashed with the president in the past, calling then-candidate Trump a "faker" who "really has an ego," leading Trump to lash out on Twitter saying "her mind is shot." Ginsburg later apologized for her comments.

However, her absence is due to a scheduling conflict. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced in late November that the State of Union would be Jan. 30. Ginsburg's Rhode Island talk was announced in late August. Four of her colleagues on the court are also not attending the address.

Ginsburg will be joined at the Rhode Island event by Judge Bruce Selya, who sits on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

“What Rhode Island can look forward to is a visit from a woman who is both a thought leader in this country — a historic figure in her own right — and someone who every person in this state would be pleased and proud to have for a neighbor,” Selya, who also sits on the law school's board of directors, said in a statement.

“The objective will be to give her an opportunity to expound on matters that will be of interest to law students and law faculty, to talk about how she goes about her job, and to offer reflections on her life experience.”

Ginsburg attended all of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speeches, including when she famously fell asleep in 2010 and again in 2015, which she blamed on drinking too much wine.

Four of Ginsburg's colleagues are planning to attend: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.

The other four justices who are not attending are Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is in California; Sonia Sotomayor, who is is in Panama; Clarence Thomas, who rarely attends; and Samuel Alito, who hasn't attended the speech since 2010, when he appeared to say "Not true" when Obama criticized the court's Citizens United decision.

This will be the smallest contingent from the court since 2008, when Roberts, Kennedy, Breyer and Alito attended George W. Bush's final State of the Union address.

All nine justices haven't attended a State of the Union, or a speech to a joint session of Congress, since 1972.

Several justices have spoken out against the address in the past. Roberts once called it “a political pep rally" and the late Justice Antonin Scalia described them as “cheerleading sessions" and said it was inappropriate for justices to attend.