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:
The hat is a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein’s famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. We presented it to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in our 27th annual Red Mass and dinner.
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.”