Obama Will Not Attend Justice Scalia's Funeral

| by Jimmy King
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama will reportedly not attend the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 20. 

“The President will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on [Feb. 19] and he’ll be joined with the first lady when he does that,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, according to ABC News.

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend Scalia’s funeral.

There is a mixed precedent of past presidents attending the funerals of Supreme Court justices. Of the last seven such funerals, four have had either a president or vice president in attendance. Former President George W. Bush attended Chief Justice William Rehnquist's funeral in 2005, where he gave a eulogy, according to Politico.

The Feb. 17 announcement by the White House comes after Scalia’s death provoked a partisan rift in Washington. 

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the appointment of a new justice to be delayed until after the presidential election in November, Obama said he will nominate a replacement before then.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” Obama said during a news conference on Feb. 16, according to The New York Times. "There’s no unwritten law that says it can only be done on off years. That’s not in the constitutional text."

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said he would consider holding hearings on a candidate nominated by the president to replace Scalia.

Obama was asked about his opposition to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2006, when the now-president was a senator.

“I think what’s fair to say is that how judicial nominations have evolved over time is not historically the fault of any single party,” Obama said. 

"What is also true is Justice Alito is on the bench right now," he added.

Obama praised Scalia after his death on Feb. 13, calling him a “brilliant legal mind.”

Sources: NBC News, The New York Times, Politico / Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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