Supreme Court to close Wednesday for National Day of Mourning

December 4, 2018

The Supreme Court is closing Wednesday to honor a National Day of Mourning for former president George H.W. Bush. Arguments will be delayed until Thursday, the nation’s highest court said in a press release Sunday.

“In recognition of the President’s announcement of a National Day of Mourning for George H.W. Bush, the Chief Justice has ordered that the Supreme Court building will be closed on Wednesday, December 5. See Supreme Court Rules 1.3, 30.1. The oral argument scheduled for Wednesday will be heard on Thursday, December 6, at 10 a.m.,” the press release read.

Supreme Court to delay arguments for Bush funeral

The court was slated to hear its final argument of the year in a case involving an exception to the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment. The high court will now hear arguments for Gamble v. United States on Thursday at 10 a.m.

It’s uncommon for the Supreme Court to close — it has remained open through government shutdowns — but it did close for the last national day of mourning in 2007, when former president Gerald Ford died.

President Trump, who called for a National Day of Mourning on Saturday, will attend an invitation-only state funeral Wednesday morning at the Washington National Cathedral with his wife Melania. The Bush family and former President Obama and his family will also attend.

Bush nominated two Supreme Court Justices, now-retired David Souter, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving current justice. Chief Justice John Roberts served in Bush’s administration as principle deputy solicitor general of the Justice Department.

Bush was flown to Washington in a presidential aircraft to lie in state at the Capital Rotunda Monday, where he will remain until his state funeral Wednesday morning. A private funeral is scheduled for Thursday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston followed by burial at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Mourning began Monday afternoon at the Rotunda with a solemn ceremony attended by the Bush family, all Supreme Court justices except Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vice President Mike Pence, Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker, his son’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other lawmakers.

Trump and Melania did not attend the 5 p.m. ceremony but made an appearance later Monday evening to pay their respects during a public viewing. Trump saluted the casket before exiting the Rotunda. Watch below:

Great statesman remembered

The National Day of Mourning is also being observed by all federal offices, the United States Postal Service, the New York Stock Exchange, and some banks and local courts. Most federal employees will get the day off, and the USPS will suspend its regular business, although it will continue limited package delivery to avoid interrupting holiday business. The ordinarily restless New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ will press pause as well to honor the former president.

Trump ordered all U.S. flags at public buildings to be flown at half-staff until the New Year.

Bush is being remembered for his decency, humility, and life of extraordinary accomplishment. He was the last president to serve in World War II and presided over the end of the Cold War. Before entering the White House, he was a Navy pilot, congressman, U.N. ambassador, and CIA director.

The 41st president died at his home in Houston on Friday night. He was 94. He served a single presidential term from 1989 to 1993, and was vice president during the Reagan administration.

Bush’s death leaves four living ex-presidents: Jimmy Carter, 94, Bill Clinton, 72, Bush’s son, George W. Bush, 72, and Barack Obama, 57.


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.