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Yes, Congress decides who lies in state or in honor

Bob Dole died on Dec. 5 at the age of 98. The former senator's casket will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 9.

Bob Dole died at the age of 98 on Sunday, Dec. 5. The former senator and presidential candidate’s casket will lie in state on Thursday, Dec. 9 in the U.S. Capitol. Dole was a World War II veteran and served in Congress for 36 years. 

“Senator Bob Dole was an extraordinary patriot. From the House to the Senate, a presidential candidate and a statesman, he served our nation with dignity and integrity. As Speaker, it is my sad official honor to announce that he will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted. 

When a distinguished government official dies, like Dole, it is customary practice for their body to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. 

THE QUESTION

Does Congress decide who lies in state or in honor?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Congress and the deceased’s family decides who can lie in state.

WHAT WE FOUND

The Architect of the Capitol is a government agency that manages the operations of the U.S. Capitol building and surrounding land. According to its website: “Any person who has rendered distinguished service to the nation may lie in a state if the family so wishes and Congress approves.” 

Lying in state is when, after a member of the government dies, their casket is on display in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. 

An official is lying in repose if their casket is in any other type of building. For example, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s casket was moved from the Rotunda to the Supreme Court, she lay in repose.

When a private citizen dies and their casket is at the Capitol, that person lies in honor. 

“Since Henry Clay in 1852, the U.S. Capitol has been used as a place to pay tribute to the Nation’s most distinguished citizens. Made available for public viewing in the Capitol, persons who have “lain in state” traditionally have been American officials, judges, and military leaders, including 12 U.S. Presidents,” the U.S. House of Representatives Archives website says.

Ginsburg was the first woman to lie in state.

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