In what some conservative commentators are calling a major snub, President Obama will not be attending Antonin Scalia's funeral on Saturday. Instead, Joe Biden will attend the service at Washington DC's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, NBC reports. "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," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. Earnest didn't take the bait when he was asked whether Obama plans to go golfing on Saturday, but said the president "believes it's important for the institution of the presidency to pay his respects to somebody who dedicated three decades of his life to the institution of the Supreme Court."
The decision surprised some Obama allies, who said skipping the funeral will do nothing to reduce partisanship, reports Politico, which notes that Obama has praised Scalia as one of the "most consequential judges and thinkers to serve." Some of those close to the Scalia family don't have a problem with Obama being a no-show. "I wouldn't have expected President Obama to attend the funeral Mass, and I see no reason to fault him for not attending," former Scalia clerk Ed Whelan says. "The ceremony at the Supreme Court seems the most apt opportunity for the president to pay his respects, but he obviously might have severe competing demands on his time." (Obama says he plans to nominate an "indisputably qualified" candidate to replace Scalia on the court.)