RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia today will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court. Scalia's death set off a political storm over who would replace him. But at the Supreme Court today, the focus is firmly on the late justice. NPR's Nina Totenberg reports.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: This is a sad and stately day at the court, a day of ritual and tradition. This morning, a hearse bearing Scalia's body drove up to the front of the court. Court police carried the flag-draped coffin across the plaza, up the steps, through the enormous bas-relief bronze doors, and into columned Great Hall. Former Scalia law clerks were honorary pallbearers. The casket was placed on the Lincoln catafalque, which has been loaned to the court by Congress for the occasion. There was a brief private ceremony for the family and court, and once that was concluded, the public began to file by with the court doors to close at 8 tonight. Among those paying their respects today, President and Mrs. Obama. Some Obama critics have suggested that the president is snubbing the late justice by not going to the funeral tomorrow and leaving that task to Vice President Biden. But Biden had a personal friendship with Scalia, and as White House press secretary Josh Earnest observed yesterday, the vice president has a smaller security footprint, posing less interference with an event like this. In fact, Scalia is only the fourth justice to die in office in the last 65 years, and there's no consistent pattern of presidential attendance. President Eisenhower did attend the funeral of Chief Justice Vinson in 1953 but not that of Justice Robert Jackson a year later. Chief Justice William Rehnquist died in 2005. President Bush attended. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.