President Barack Obama will not attend Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral on Saturday, the White House said Wednesday. Instead, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will attend.
CNN reports President Obama will travel to the Supreme Court on Friday to pay his respects to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death last weekend has sparked a bitter political fight.
The White House said Obama and the first lady would visit the court as Scalia’s body lies in repose.
The next day, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife will attend a funeral Mass for Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Inside the court, Scalia’s chair and the bench in front of it have been draped with black wool crepe. A black drape has also been hung over the courtroom doors.
Even amid the rancorous political battle underway over Scalia’s replacement, Obama has sought to memorialize the justice, who was one of the panel’s most conservative voices.
“Justice Scalia and I had different political orientations and probably would have disagreed on the outcome of certain cases. But there’s no doubt that he was a giant on the Supreme Court, helped to shape the legal landscape,” Obama said. “It’s important, before we rush into the all the politics of this, to take stock of somebody who made enormous contributions to the United States. And we are grateful not only for his service but for his family’s service.”
NBC News reported that when pressed for clarification on Obama missing the funeral, White House press secretary Josh Earnest repeated that “the president will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on Friday and he’ll be joined with the first lady when he does that.”
When asked whether Obama’s Saturday plans include golfing, Earnest stressed instead that the president believes it is important to honor Scalia’s life and service.