President Obama faced a tsunami of criticism when the news broke that he would not be attending Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral on Saturday, but instead would pay his respects by appearing at the Great Hall where Scalia's body would lie in repose Friday.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the decision Thursday, saying:
“Vice President Biden, who is somebody that had his own personal relationship with Justice Scalia and his family, will be representing the administration at the funeral…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.”
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama did indeed pay their respects Friday. They first stood in front of Scalia's casket, then moved to a portrait of the Justice before exiting the building.
The entire process lasted approximately two minutes.
After traveling to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral, Obama gave a 19-minute speech.
After the Charleston shooting, Obama gave a 37-minute eulogy at Rev. Clementa Pinckney's funeral.
Obama gave an 11-minute eulogy at former Senator Robert Byrd's funeral.
Antonin Scalia's funeral is being held Saturday.