President-elect Joe Biden’s forthcoming inauguration ceremony on Wednesday will mark the first time in over 150 years that an outgoing president will not attend his successor’s swearing-in ceremony.
President Donald Trump is the most prominent political figure who has announced that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, which is scheduled to take place at noon on Wednesday at the West Lawn of the United States Capitol as his term in office expires. Trump’s decision not to attend his successor’s inauguration, which he announced on Jan. 8, will make him the first president in more than a century-and-a-half to boycott his successor’s swearing-in ceremony.
According to Fox News, the other presidents who declined to attend their successors’ inaugurations were John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829, Martin Van Buren in 1841 and Andrew Johnson in 1869. In the cases of John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams and Van Buren, the presidents had lost reelection to the incoming president whose inauguration they chose not to attend.
Johnson, a Democrat who succeeded Republican Abraham Lincoln upon his assassination in 1865, had failed to win his party’s nomination in 1868 but nonetheless did not attend the inauguration of his Republican successor, Ulysses S. Grant. One hundred fifty years later, the 2020 presidential election between Trump, the incumbent Republican president, and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Biden, was highly contested. Allegations of fraud caused some to doubt the authenticity of the results.
Biden responded to Trump’s plans not to attend his inauguration, describing the decision as “one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on,” adding, “It’s a good thing him not showing up.” Mike Pence, Biden’s successor as vice president, will be the top official from the Trump administration in attendance at the inauguration.
Although Biden’s immediate predecessor has declined to attend the inauguration, three of the four living former presidents will attend the ceremony, including Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president under for eight years. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will also attend the inauguration as will former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. At age 96, former President Jimmy Carter has declined to attend.
While it has been more than 150 years since a president has boycotted the inauguration of his successor, politicians have boycotted inaugurations of presidents of the opposite party following hard-fought campaigns as recently as four years ago. In 2017, many congressional Democrats elected not to attend the inauguration of President Donald Trump, including the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who described the president as illegitimate during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.
With the 2020 presidential election featuring an equally intense campaign as the 2016 election, if not a more intense campaign, a handful of Republican lawmakers have formally announced that they will not attend Biden’s inauguration. Unlike in the previous inauguration, when dislike of Trump and disapproval of the election results was the primary reason for not attending the inauguration among congressional Democrats, Republicans declining to attend Biden’s inauguration cite security concerns as the motivation behind their decisions.
A Fox News report lists four congressional Republicans who have decided to skip Biden’s inauguration: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn., Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas. Greene, Harshbarger, Mace and Van Duyne are newly elected members of Congress and three of the four voted to object to the certification of the electoral votes in Pennsylvania in light of allegations of fraud.
While Greene has emerged as one of the outgoing president’s strongest defenders and has already announced her intention to file articles of impeachment against Biden later this week, she alleged that “extreme security concerns” contributed to her decision not to attend the inauguration. A spokeswoman for Mace told Fox News that “she is not attending for security purposes,” adding “she’s received several threats so we’re keeping her in Charleston for safety.”
Van Duyne’s spokeswoman said that the congresswoman “regrets being unable to attend inauguration due to commitments in the district.” She argued that the commitments in the district were necessary because the impeachment proceedings against Trump forced Van Duyne to reschedule them.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, has announced that he will not attend Biden’s inauguration after attending Trump’s inauguration four years prior.
Some of the most visible voices in the Republican Party have elected to attend the inauguration despite raising questions about the outcome in key swing states. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House minority leader, will attend the inauguration, as will Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., another member of the freshmen class of Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Both Republican senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, have announced their intention to attend Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, according to The Texas Tribune. Cruz was one of the senators who objected to the certification of Biden’s narrow victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Others who objected to the certification of Biden’s victory in select states, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. and Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., have also announced their intentions to attend the inauguration.
Additionally, Arizona’s Doug Ducey announced on Twitter that he would be attending the inauguration.