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Earnest Defends Obama's Decision to Skip Scalia's Funeral, Chides Critics for Using It As ' Political Cudgel


Vice President Joe Biden, a friend of the Scalia family, will attend on behalf of the administration.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest listens during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Earnest talked about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Critics of President Barack Obama's decision not to attend Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral are using the funeral as a "political cudgel," the White House press secretary said today.

During his daily press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended Obama's decision to pay his respects to Scalia, who died over the weekend, on Friday when his body lies in state at the Supreme Court chambers rather than at his funeral Saturday.

Vice President Joe Biden, a friend of the Scalia family, will attend on behalf of the administration, Earnest told reporters. The vice president's security footprint is smaller than the president's, he added.

"Some people actually want to use the funeral of the Supreme Court justice as some sort of political cudgel," he said, adding that the president doesn't think such "rancor" and "partisanship" is appropriate.

"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," Earnest said. "And that's what he's going to do."

Scalia's funeral will be held at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

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