Clarence Thomas says he skips State of the Union addresses—including President Obama’s last week—“because it has become so partisan,” he told a Florida law school this week. “It’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there,” he said. “There’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV—the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments.”

He added that by going, “the court becomes part of the conversation, if you want to call it that, in the speeches,” an apparent reference to Obama’s criticism of the court’s decision striking down campaign finance restrictions on corporations. Thomas defended that ruling, citing the Tillman Act of 1907 as an example of the dangers of limiting corporate speech. “As I hear the story,” he said, Tillman pushed the law because he thought “corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks.”

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