President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will not attend the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, The Hill reports.
The Obamas do plan to pay their respects Friday when Scalia's body will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court building, but the funeral on Saturday at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will be attended by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
Earnest did not give a reason the Obama's would not be attending the funeral for the Reagan appointee who died Saturday at the age of 79.
Scalia was one of the court's most conservative members, and his unexpected death set off an instant public battle between the left and right, with Democrats insisting Obama should name his own choice to replace Scalia and Republicans vowing not to confirm an Obama appointment with only 11 months left in his term.
Republicans say the next president, who they hope will be a member of their own party, should have the chance to make the nomination. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is hoping to be sitting in the Oval Office himself on January 20, but has said he will filibuster any Obama nominee while he still has his current job.
The president says he intends to send a nominee to the Senate and urged Republicans to act on it.
The last member of the high court to die was Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 2005. At that time, Politico notes
, then-President George W. Bush attended the funeral and also gave a eulogy.
News that Obama would not attend the funeral was just as divisive as the argument over Scalia's replacement, with people on Twitter noting which funerals Obama has attended while in office – and which he hasn't.
Talk radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity noted
that Obama also did not attend the funerals of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, Major General Harold Greene and his own aunt Zeinuti Onyango.
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