NYT: President Obama Is Criticized Over Funeral for Scalia

Originally posted at the New York Times by Gardiner Harris.

The White House on Thursday tried to fend off criticism of President Obama’s decision not to attend the funeral this weekend of Justice Antonin Scalia, but even some administration allies lamented the move as a missed opportunity to ease the partisan warfare that has followed the justice’s death.

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will pay their respects by visiting the Supreme Court on Friday, when Justice Scalia will lie in repose in the Great Hall. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is Catholic — as was Justice Scalia — and had a personal relationship with him and his family, will attend the funeral on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception along with his wife, Jill.

Facing questions again on Thursday about the decision, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, did not offer a direct answer but implied that one reason was the potential for the extensive presidential security detail to be disruptive.

“Obviously, when the vice president travels to some place, his security footprint is at least a little bit lighter,” Mr. Earnest said. “But given his personal relationship with the family and given the president’s desire to find a respectful way to pay tribute to Justice Scalia’s service to the country, we believe we have settled on an appropriate and respectful arrangement.”

Administration officials were stung by what they saw as an unfair attack on what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s dignified and respectful reaction to Justice Scalia’s death, a reaction they thought contrasted sharply with that of others in Washington who quickly politicized the loss.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly expressed condolences to Justice Scalia’s family and, while acknowledging their differences, praised him as “somebody who made enormous contributions to the United States.”

“Some people actually want to use the funeral of the Supreme Court justice as some sort of political cudgel,” Mr. Earnest said. “The president doesn’t think that that’s appropriate, and, in fact, what the president thinks is appropriate is respectfully paying tribute to high-profile patriotic American citizens even when you don’t agree on all the issues. And that’s what he’s going to do.”

Still, some supporters of the administration saw Mr. Obama’s decision as another reflection of the capital’s deep partisan divide.

But Ed Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who once clerked for Justice Scalia and shares the same faith, said that Mr. Obama made the right decision. Mr. Whelan emphasized that traditional Catholic funerals are deeply religious affairs during which even eulogies are discouraged.

“For Catholics, a funeral Mass is first and foremost a funeral, not an event of state,” Mr. Whelan said.

In Queens, Antonin Scalia Took Pride in Melting Pot and ConfrontationFEB. 15, 2016
The Supreme Court gives great deference to historical precedent, but history provides conflicting clues about whether a presidential visit to the funeral is appropriate.

While President George W. Bush attended the funeral in 2005 of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who was the last justice to die while on the bench, funerals of other justices have passed without the presence of either the president or the vice president.

Michael Moreland, a law professor at Villanova University who is Catholic and was on the White House staff of Mr. Bush, said both sides had valid points.

The event on Friday at the Supreme Court is the more appropriate place for a presidential visit, he said, but Mr. Obama’s attendance at the funeral “could have been a nice occasion for reducing polarization of D.C.’s political culture.”

Read more at New York Times.


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  • discpmkr says:

    February 19, 2016 at 5:39 PM

    Muslim narcissist! If it isn’t all about him, or Allah, forget it.

    • Art Clark says:

      February 20, 2016 at 9:58 PM

      I found this online and was wondering what you thought… Sent it to Dana first… You are getting what I sent her … Hi Dana, Love the Five ! Found this online and not really sure what to think about it. Sounds too crazy to believe but not impossible. Just wondering what you thought… Could something like this happen ? { There are many little idiosyncrasies about this. Like WHY isn’t president obama going to be at the funeral ? Justice Scalia was Vigorously opposed to Obamacare, Shot down Climate Fraud… was involved in Senate level discussions on how to arrest Hillary and Involved in Pentagon level discussions on how to arrest POTUS ! Perfect Bill of Health… No Autopsy !
      The death was acknowledged and recorded by a judge, over the phone. It may be SOP for a homeless guy, but not a Justice of the Supreme court.
      He was embalmed within less than 24 hours of the death pronouncement. This is not even SOP for a body found along side the road. Someone was in a hurry to remove evidence.
      He was not in poor heath even though a cardiac patient.
      He had been hunting that day.
      He was found with a pillow over his face. Who sleeps like that?
      It’s obvious this man was in someone’s way.
      So the next big thing that the Supreme Court votes on, and who ever is trying to push it threw.
      I would take a hard close look at that.
      That would be the motive for murder.
      Most likely carried out by the CIA.
      This Man was murdered. }

  • GBArnold says:

    February 19, 2016 at 11:34 PM

    “Some people actually want to use the funeral of the Supreme Court justice as some sort of political cudgel,” Mr. Earnest said. “The president doesn’t think that that’s appropriate”,
    Are we talking about the same person who used the bully pulpit of the 2010 State of the Union address to excoriate the SCOTUS regarding Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
    Obama benefited more than anyone can comprehend from the influx of foreign money into the presidential campaign.

  • JakkiK says:

    February 20, 2016 at 3:19 AM

    I am so glad obama is NOT going. He would use Scalia’s dead body as just another photo op.

    He has no class.But obama can go to the funerals of: Clementa Pinckney, state senator (black democrat); Nelson Mandela; Tom foley, former Speaker, Democrat; Daniel Inouye, senator, Democrat; Robert Byrd, senator, Democrat; Dorothy Height, civil rights icon; Ted Kennedy, senator, Democrat; Walter Cronkite, broadcaster…

    So, unless you are black, and/or a democrat, he ain’t going.

  • Karen169 says:

    February 21, 2016 at 7:30 AM

    I’m thankful that he didn’t go. He would have taken selfies like he did at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Let’s face it unless it is an occasion where he is glorified, it is a waste a time for him.

  • scragsma says:

    February 21, 2016 at 11:32 PM

    I definitely am not a fan of Barack, but in this case I’m not sure whether I would have wanted him to attend the funeral. On the one hand, I do think his declining to attend showed a lack of respect, but at the same time I suspect that if he had attended they might have felt obligated to ask him to speak – and I would have hated that.