President Barack Obama will not attend conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral on Saturday, the White House says.
The president and first lady will instead pay their respects on Friday while Scalia lays in repose at the high court.
‘I can tell you that Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will attend Justice Scalia’s funeral at the Basilica on Saturday,’ White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
It was not immediately clear why the president won’t go to the formal funeral.
‘I don’t have a sense of what the president’s plans are for Saturday,’ Earnest said after a reporter suggested it would be bad form for him to go golfing, a favorite weekend activity of Obama’s.
The White House official had few details on the executive branch’s involvement in the funeral proceedings. He could not say whether the vice president would give a eulogy.
At the suggestion that the president might go to a private ceremony on Friday, Earnest said the White House would have additional details at a later time.
When active Supreme Court Chief Justice Justice William Rehnquist passed away in 2005, then-President George W. Bush attended the ceremony and gave a tribute to the Republican-appointed judge.
He did not attend the funeral of John F. Kennedy era judge Byron White. The ex-justice had retired a decade before before, however.
As Obama’s spokesman was peppered with questions about Scalia and Obama’s plans to replace him on the bench, Earnest said Friday presents an ‘important opportunity for the president and first lady to pay their respects to Scalia.’
‘I think that’s important not just on a personal level, but also on an institutional level,’ he said. ‘It also is an appropriate opportunity for the individual who is serving as President of the United States to offer respect to somebody who served in a third branch of government.’
Obama and Senate Republicans are already in a stand off over Scalia’s seat, though he’s been dead less than a week.
The president wouldn’t commit yesterday to putting a moderate on the court and urged Senate Republicans promising to filibuster his nominee, whoever he or she may be, to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to confirm or deny his pick.
Dirtying the waters, however, is Obama’s own filibuster as a senator of George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito.
‘That is an approach the president regrets,’ Earnest said today.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.