Justice Antin Scalia’s inauguration headgear: More than a hat?

SAUL LOEB AFP/GETTY IMAGES US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (L) and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts(C) arrive for … Continued



US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (L) and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts(C) arrive for the inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Message in the millinery?

Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia, a conservative jurist whose criticism of President Obama’s policies from the bench has attracted notice, wore a hat to Obama’s inauguration Monday, a move some are speculating had a deeper meaning.

Kevin Walsh, an associate professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and former Scalia clerk, wrote on his blog:

More (Feb 4, 1477 or 14788 – July 6, 1535), whose life was depicted in the movie ‘A Man for All Seasons,’ served as Chancellor of England during the time of King Henry VIII and the subsequent English Reformation. When More, a legal scholar and devoted Catholic, rejected the changing religious ethics at the time (among them–Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon), he was condemned to death by beheading. Scholars note his last words were ”I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” More was canonized (made a saint) in 1935.

Was Scalia, a Catholic who often speaks about his how faith frames his worldview, subtly stating his defiance of political authority, making an argument about religious freedom today, or was his head just really cold?

At First Things, Matthew Schmitz saw a connection: “Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.”


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • Satire & Sarcasm

    I volunteer to decapitate Scalia.

  • amelia45

    Perhaps he just likes the hat.

    I find it hard to think that More “defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience” as Schmitz said. More was Catholic – he simply did not believe that anyone could/should not be Catholic. More was brave and true – to himself. And he showed great courage when faced with being forced to deny what he considered central to himself. I can respect that.

    Scalia wears a hat.

    Is that an equal act?

  • harrisjp2

    Aretha’s was better.

  • Beegee

    Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition……

  • jimwalters1

    If Catholic teachings truly framed Scalia’s world view he would oppose capital punishment in all but the rarest of cases (section 2267 of the official cathecism). Does that sound like Scalia to you?

  • mondaytothursday

    Maybe he should move to Rome.

  • ward7

    I like the hat. Does wearing a hoodie make one a hoodlum?

  • Kingofkings1

    Perhaps he was having a bad hair day?

  • Secular1

    This senile coot should be the last one to protest about tyranny. He by his legal activism thrust upon us 8 years of Bush tyranny. And ha sthe gall to tell us to get over it. He is neither wedded to law nor democracy, just his arrogance & ego.

  • IheartUSA1

    In 2000 More was named the lawyer of the millennium by the International Legal society and a painting of More sits right outside the House of Commons with a quote from his contemporary Renaissance Humanist Erasmus, “One whose soul was more pure than any snow whose genius was such that England never had and never again will have its like”. There is even a statue of More outside the Kremlin of all places so he clearly speaks to an extraordinarily broad audience of non religious groups as well.

  • IheartUSA1

    More was the Chancellor of England for Henry VIII.

  • edbyronadams

    Maybe he was keeping himself warm and decided to wear a hat someone gave him.

  • gtrgrl1

    i am in absolute disagreement with scalia on just about everything. however i respect his right of free speech and wearing the hat was a very original and pretty cool way to let his alignments be known. the problem is that in alligning and identifying himself with a (great) man who protested the king’s behavior on religious principle he has both undermined the religious freedom clause of the constitutionthat he is sworn to defend and by action communicated that he believes his religious values are a legitimate foundation from which to decide cases. perhaps he should have found a replica of jefferson’s or washington’s millinery. that would have communicated his commitment to american and not catholic doctrine

  • edbyronadams

    ” a (great) man who protested the king’s behavior on religious principle”

    And who willingly burned people to death who disagreed with the Vatican.

  • DavidJ9

    So Scalia is acknowledging that he doesn’t care what the Constitution says, that he is letting some crazy man from a foreign country tell him how to vote.

    I don’t think he belongs on the bench any more.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    Must make you aethiests crazy that they hand out pocket sized copies of the New Testament of Jesus Christ to every new recruit in the United States Marine Corps too.

    Because Marines are first to fight, first to die to defend you. Stop pretending that Christians are going anywhere, or that you have too be a stupid moron to be a christian. To us it makes you look extremely nasty. We are and always will be a Christian nation, especially with the new latino population explosion. Christians do more for the poor than any other group of people. And thats a fact.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    The kremlin is full of images of Jesus.

  • persiflage

    The Kremlin is full of very old churches dedicated to the Russian Orthodox faith – which is the Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Statuary of various saints and assorted religious icons are found everywhere in the world of Catholicism. The figure of Jesus is found mainly on crosses, or as an infant being held by his mother.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    I bet almost every one of our “Founding fathers” would be in a church on Sunday back then, despite revisionist history by aetheists.

    And yes we a country that doesnt declare on its coinage that Christ is Lord, but a nation full of Christians we most certianly are.

    However, even with all our Christianity in America, I always see fewer and fewer who are actually “Born Again” Christians, as Jesus commands. “marvel not that I say to you, you must be “Born Again”.John chapter 3 verse 7.
    Born again in your spirit, with Jesus truly living in your heart, to stop hating each other, fighting each other, and start loving one and other.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    And I also gather that some founders or their orginizations were in fact apocalyptic Christians.

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