White House Reveals Why Barack Obama Won't Attend Justice Antonin Scalia's Funeral


President Barack Obama will not be attending conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral on Feb. 20.

Instead, he will spend the weekend reviewing potential nominees to fill the vacancy created by his death.

"The president's team, over the course of this week, has spent a lot of time preparing materials for the president's review," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Feb. 15. "And I would expect, over the weekend, that the president will begin to dig into the materials that have been prepared for him," Earnest continued, according to Reuters.

Earnest said the materials contain information about “some potential nominees” including career accomplishments and experience.

He did not indicate whether Obama has a choice in mind to replace Scalia.

Scalia’s death has left the Supreme Court with four conservative and four liberal judges. The individual Obama chooses to replace him will reflect what side has the majority going forward.

Republican lawmakers have threatened to block any nominee Obama puts forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Scalia’s vacated seat should remain open for the newly elected president in to fill in 2016.

Earnest said Obama told McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley that he will make a nomination during his last year as president. Whether the nominee is confirmed is up to the Senate, of which Republicans have the majority.

The White House announced on Feb. 17 that Obama would not be attending Scalia’s funeral. He and First Lady Michelle did attend his wake at the Supreme Court on Feb. 19.

The Obamas spent approximately 35 seconds in front of the casket and approximately 67 seconds in front of the portrait of Scalia, The Daily Caller reports. For around 15 minutes they were in another room “meeting with others,” a White House pool report said.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will attend Scalia’s funeral.

Sources: ReutersThe Daily Caller / Photo credit: The White House/Flickr

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