When is the State Of the Union?
President Barack Obama will deliver the first State of the Union address of his second term on Tuesday, February 12 at 9 pm eastern time. It will be televised on pretty much every station that features a regular news broadcast — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, and other networks. YouTube will also live-stream the address from the House of Representative in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. As usual, the address will be given before a joint session of Congress.
The State of the Union is mandated by the Constitution, which in Article II, Section 3, states that the president "shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Although there is much pomp and circumstance surrounding this annual event, the speeches tend to have little impact in terms of policy and lubricating the oft-gridlocked wheels of government. The State of the Union address gives the president an opportunity to review his accomplishments in office, while also outlining his vision for the country going forward.
It also provides the president with the opportunity to scold the Supreme Court, which is usually in attendance:
Speeches before joint sessions of Congress also give congressmen the opportunity to yell at the president as he delivers his speech. In 2009, Obama gave a speech on health care (that wasn't a State of the Union address), during which Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) heckled Obama, as if the president were performing stand-up on open-mic night.
Yelling at the president during a speech to a joint session of Congress is considered a no-no — if you're actually present in the chamber. Of course, if you're watching at home, you're more than welcome to scream at the television.