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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent cancer surgery a little over two weeks ago, and five other justices were in attendance Tuesday night for President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress.


Ginsburg is recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer, her second major bout with cancer. She returned to the court on Monday.

A loud cheer went up in the House chamber when Ginsburg was seen entering.

Also in attendance were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Three other justices — Antonin Scalia, David Souter and John Paul Stevens — were absent.

While technically not a State of the Union address, Obama's speech in essence serves as the more formal talk to Congress this year. Breyer has not missed one since 2001, while Roberts and Alito have been to every one since they joined the court in 2005 and 2006.

Justices typically have said little about why they do or don't attend the speech. One exception is Scalia, who hasn't gone in at least 10 years. He has said the speech has become increasingly partisan, a problem for a group that studiously refrains from applauding even remotely political statements.


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