Obama, Scalia and the Politics of a High Court Funeral

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama look at a portrait of Scalia as they pay their respects on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama is taking fire from friends and foes alike for skipping Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral. But even some with ties to Scalia believe he is right in bowing out.  

The president and first lady Michelle Obama on Friday afternoon made the 2 1/2-mile trek from the White House to the Supreme Court, where the 79-year-old conservative justice’s body laid in repose. But rather than also attending Scalia’s funeral on Saturday morning, Obama is dispatching Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.  

Alito Filibuster Vote Haunts Obama

Obama returns to the White House on Tuesday night after hosting a summit with Asian leaders in California. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

The White House is defending President Barack Obama’s vote as a senator to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court by saying, unlike Senate Republican leaders now, he had “substantive” concerns. But the president acknowledged that Democrats didn't do a good enough job making the case for those concerns, a spokesman said.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., backed by about two dozen members of his caucus, wants to wait for the next president to select a replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the conservative justice found dead on Feb. 13. Much has been made in the past few days about Obama’s 2006 vote to block Alito’s ascension to the high court. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday called then-Sen. Obama’s vote a “symbolic” one, intended to register his opposition rather than block the appointment. That vote on a specific nominee, Earnest said, is far different from the Republican leaders' suggestion that they will not consider any nomination in an election year.  

Obama's Successor Could Oversee High Court Makeover

Activists with the People For the American Way hold a demonstration outside of the Supreme Court on Monday, calling on Congress to give fair consideration to President Obama’'s coming nominee to the Supreme Court. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama’s successor could have the chance to orchestrate the biggest re-make of the Supreme Court’s composition in four decades, further raising the stakes of the 2016 election cycle.  

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death gives Obama a chance, though potentially slim, to replace a solidly conservative vote with a consistently liberal one. But, with three justices beyond or approaching their 80th birthdays, voters in November will get a chance to make clear in which political direction they prefer the high court to lean for decades to come.  

Obama to GOP: Constitution 'Clear' on Scalia Replacement

President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference following a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the Sunnylands estate in California. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday pressed Senate Republicans to hold hearings and vote on his eventual Supreme Court nominee, saying the Constitution requires it.  

Obama offered few clues about the kind of individual he is seeking to replace the late Antonin Scalia, the 79-year-old conservative justice who was found dead Saturday. He did, however, say no candidate’s stance on any single issue would sway his decision and vowed to nominate a “very qualified” individual. He replied "no" — with a wide smile — when asked by a reporter if his calls for the Senate to conduct a confirmation process means he will send seek out a moderate nominee. Obama’s comments came during a news conference in California at an economic conference with Asian leaders.