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Mourners gather for Scalia’s funeral Mass at hallowed place

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The alter area is seen prior to a funeral mass for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> In a hallowed place where popes have prayed and pilgrims have flocked, mourners gathered Saturday at the nation’s largest Catholic church to pay their final respects to Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia’s sons and sons-in-law served as pallbearers to carry his flag-draped casket into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a funeral Mass honoring the late jurist who died unexpectedly last weekend.

Dignitaries including Vice President Joe Biden, former Vice President Dick Cheney, members of Congress and all eight sitting justices of the Supreme Court were among those attending.

Scalia’s casket arrived at the basilica after he lay in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday, where thousands of visitors came to honor one of the country’s most influential conservatives.

One of Scalia’s nine children, the Rev. Paul Scalia, was to lead the Mass and deliver the homily.

Several federal judges who are considered possible replacements for Scalia also were at the funeral Mass, including Judges Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett and Chief Judge Merrick Garland, all of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

President Barack Obama will not attend, despite criticism from some Republicans. He and first lady Michelle Obama were among the more than 6,000 people who paid tribute to Scalia at the Supreme Court on Friday. Scalia’s flag-draped casket rested on a funeral bier that first held President Abraham Lincoln’s casket after his assassination.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest pointed to Biden’s personal relationship with Scalia’s family and said Obama’s decision about the Mass was a “respectful arrangement” that took into account his large security detail.

Scalia, 79, died last weekend at a remote Texas ranch after spending nearly three decades on the high court. Burial plans have not been announced.

GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz planned to interrupt his campaign ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary to attend the Mass. The Texas senator has been among those urging the Senate not to consider replacing Scalia until after the November election. Obama has insisted that he will nominate a successor.

Scheduled to give opening remarks at the Mass was Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl.

Leonard Leo, executive director of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, was to read a passage from the Old Testament, while Justice Clarence Thomas planned to read from the New Testament.

Three popes have visited the basilica: Pope John Paul II in 1979, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and Pope Francis last year.

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  • A man of self-proclaimed absolute principles – until his partisan agenda conflicted with he previously stated absolutist legal views and then, in vicious,sarcastic language, he exposed his deep-seated biases.

  • Progressives did not like this guy because he was said marriage was only between a man and a women… Likeit or not, there are quite a few peoplewho agree with him. Domestic partner yes, marriage no. He was against forcing Americans to buy health insurance..(obamacare) and would definitely have nixed Obama’s illegal executive actions on immigration.. Thats why Obama is snubbing the funeral and wants toreplace himsobadd with a liberal justice.. Scalia was a great man and the country is worse off with him gone.

    • The people who agree with Scalia on marriage are willing to ignore the Fourteenth Amendment. Even his fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court didn’t go along with Scalia’s “dead Constitution” theory, which he was willing to contradict if it served his political agenda.

      • BSdetection, the majority of the Supreme Court, 5 Justices of 9, decided to allow same sex marriage and step all over the 14th Amendment. I understand the support for the Courts majority. But, the Courts decision does abridge, “the privileges or immunities of citizens” by taking away the Religious Liberty of citizens through providing other citizens special rights. Also, the decision deprived citizens of their “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” by stepping on their religious belief (life and liberty) and loss of control of their property, when their Churches and adjoining facilities are controlled by government. The law makers at all levels must propose and understand that each and every law is to treat all Americans equally. Any law providing special rights and privileges to some and not all are unconstitutional. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    • It was a LOT more than that. Scalia pretty much was against everything that the left supported. Now Clarance Thomas is going to pick up the torch on this. Seems like Scalia opposed the left just of principle alone and just to piss them off no matter what the issue or case was.

  • The Supreme Court won’t miss the man who made this appalling statement during oral arguments: “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

    • BSdetection, first, what part of the 14th Amendment, that Justice Scalia and others who support marriage is between a man and a woman, are avoiding? On your post, are we not all American? That our Country is of Freedom and Liberty? In other words, are we not “individually” responsible for our decisions and actions? Affirmative Action has passed its time and we, as Americans, must move on. My Black soldiers in Vietnam also expressed that same thoughts in 1969 and three of them college graduates from; Michigan, LSU, and Texas. As Sp4 Johnny Green grad from LSU said one evening, “We all help each other because we all bleed red.”

      • “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

        • BSdetection, there is nowhere in the 14th Amendment that mandates the State(s) or the Federal Government to establish a racial quota to attain racial harmony. As you posted the 14th (thank you), there is no language in the Constitution 14th that relates to, “abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens” or “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process” or “equal protection of the laws.” Affirmative Action would be unconstitutional, for it does take away privileges, immunities, life, liberty, property, or provide equal protection for all citizens and gives the same to other citizens. Affirmative Action splits American citizens into groups, and which I strongly oppose.

    • Exactly. You’ll notice that not one “conservative” commenter mentioned one of Justice Scalia’s decisions or why they supported him. The comments are all about the President. No article is too far afield from the President to inflame the Obama Derangement Syndrome that is displayed here daily. Imbeciles.

    • “There’s not substantial historic precedent for Presidents attending the funerals of sitting justices.” said Ed Whelan, a former Scalia clerk, “‘I wouldn’t have expected President Obama to attend the funeral Mass, and I see no reason to fault him for not attending'” Since 1980, only 4 times has a President attended the funeral of a Supreme Court Justice. 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. Scalia’s widow declined to an invitation to the Scalia family to a private meeting with the First Lady and the President.

        • I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!

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