Death is one event that should, at least temporarily, transcend politics. Not so, apparently, for our president, the great divider.

Barack Obama declined to attend the funeral services for a truly great American, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, presided over by one of the justice’s nine children, the Rev. Paul Scalia.

Obama’s absence sent an ugly message. Our president decided on giving a political sop to the portion of his political party that scorned Scalia and everything that he stood for.

You should be ashamed, Mr. President.

It is a national disgrace that Obama hid behind a brief visit to the rotunda where Justice Scalia lay in repose, rather than attending the next day, as president of the United States, the funeral of a Supreme Court justice.

Obama’s unconscionable decision was an act of cowardice, choosing to pander to a partisan political base that disagreed with Scalia’s judicial opinions. Perhaps, our president also felt personally uncomfortable with honoring, even in death, a man whose values were anathema to him.

A plain, simple, beautiful Catholic mass in honor of a man who will be known forever for his courageous positions on American values and the defense of our Constitution was an environment in which Obama did not wish to be present. Scalia’s legacy will stand forever, but is shunned even in death by a U.S. president more interested in his own far different legacy.

Apparently, issues making it impossible for the president to honor Scalia’s public service and the man’s integrity, by attendance at his funeral, must have included some of the following:

• Scalia stood against legislating from the bench, instead insisting on original intent interpretation of the Constitution, as written by our country’s founders.

• He was unabashedly pro-life and his legal opinions reflected his belief in the sanctity and value of life, extending to the unborn.

• The judge’s positions included defense of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

• Scalia fiercely defended citizens’ unabridged “right to bear arms.”

These and other judicial opinions made him a conservative icon of our time.

That is why a president who is pro-choice, unwilling to defend or protect traditional marriage, and who disdains Second Amendment gun rights, among other political issues, found it not possible to attend the funeral of a good, compassionate man. Obama, giving no excuse, shamelessly chose not to join Scalia’s wonderful family and his fellow justices at this national funeral.

Scalia loved his God, country and family. He believed that our founders wrote a Constitution that was a blessing to be cherished, honored and followed.

Unfortunately, our president feels otherwise. Obama believes that any document can and should be changed. That is why he uses executive orders to circumvent Congress in order to execute his often repeated plan to “change this country.”

Politics can be no excuse for Obama’s absence from Scalia’s funeral.

The president who felt no responsibility to honor in death a 30-year Supreme Court justice now states that he has the responsibility to immediately nominate a successor.

The best way for this country to show respect for Scalia is for Congress to deny this president’s hope, just before he exits, to tilt the scales of justice in favor of a nominee that can pass his idealogical litmus test. We must stop Obama’s stated dream of re-shaping America. Let the American people decide the future of our country. Make it a referendum by and for the people. Let Scalia’s replacement be decided by the outcome of our approaching presidential election. Obama has forfeited his right to choose the next justice.

That is what Scalia, lover of our Constitution and a nation of laws serving a moral America, would want. He believed that voters and their elected representatives are the only ones with the right to change the Constitution, not the unelected justices of the Supreme Court, of which he was one.

Scalia personified the best qualities in all of us, and lived the “American Dream.” Rest in peace, Justice Scalia, content with your place in history.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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