This Constitution is the Crown Jewel of my collection, and proudly stands on my desk at my office in Chambers.
Justice Thomas wrote, “This is your Constitution.” Justice Scalia scrawled his classic Nino signature. But how did this Constitution come to be? Months and months of strategery.
Check out the story, after the jump. Trust me, it’s good. And I have pictures to document the entire story.
My obsession with autographed Constitutions kicked into full swing during 2008. While at General Olson’s 2008 Federalist Society BBQ, I was able to have a constitution signed by Justice Alito, as well as General Olson and Chief Judge Sentelle. Back then I came unprepared, and only had a single Constitution in my breast pocket.
Later that Summer, I met Justice Scalia at a book signing for his book, Making Your Case, at the Marriot Wardman Park. After he signed a copy of the book he was selling, I asked if he would sign my Constitution. In a typical Sicilian Fashion, he shooed me away with his hands. I was crushed and devastated. My main man on the Court dissed me. But I was not defeated.
I saw Justice Scalia again at a book signing following the Making Your Case CLE held at the Kennedy Center. He was willing to sign his book, but again, would not sign the Constitution. It seemed he would only sign something he received royalties from. You’d think with all the Originalist opinions he wrote, he should receive royalties from the Constitution 🙂
After my second rejection, I knew I had to wisen up. But how often would I have access to a Justice of the Supreme Court? Fortunately, the stars alligned, and I seized the moment. I formed the ultimate strategery.
I knew Justice Scalia would be signing copies of his book at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention in November 2008. I also knew that Mason Professor Rao had invited Justice Thomas to speak to her Constitutional Law class at Mason earlier in November. The strategery was born. What if I asked Justice Thomas to sign the Constitution first, then asked Justice Scalia to sign the same Constitution? It was such a crazy idea, it just might work. Nothing like peer pressuring a Justice.
When Justice Thomas came, there was a slight problem, as Professor Rao limited attendance to her current students. Alas, I was not such a student. No matter. I patiently waited for the lecture to end, and as the line started to form to meet and greet with Justice Thomas, I deftly and slyly added myself to the queue. Professor Rao, who was one of my favorite Professors, did not know me at the time, did not look pleased with my trespass. But I persisted, and was unwilling to give up on my goal.
I finally snaked to the front of the line, and Justice Thomas heartily greeted me. I took out the Cato Constitution I had been saving, and he graciously signed it.
I now had my Scalia bait.
Fortunately, the Federalist Society Photographer captured the scene, moments before my Constitution was signed by Justice Scalia.
At the conclusion of the Federalist Society Lawyers Convention, I patiently waited on line at Justice Scalia’s book signing. I was geting nervous as his bodyguard started eyeballing me. He saw I was holding a Constitution, opened, and he knew what I was going to ask. He made some kind of gesture, telling me no. I was still determined. My turn came in line. I gave Justice Scalia a copy of Making Your Case which he dutifully signed. Then, I gulped and asked. “Justice Scalia, would you please sign my Constitution.” Justice Scalia said no, shooed me away with his hands, and his bodyguard gave me the motion to move on.
I was not through yet. I said, “Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas has already signed this Constitution. Would you sign it as well?” There was a pause, Scalia didn’t say a word. Scalia said “come on” and gestured with his hands that I should give him the Constitution. I handed him the Constitution. He signed it. I said thank you. I walked away with the biggest smile on my face! Months of planning. In the words of our inestimable 43rd President: “Mission Accomplished!”
Who says Thomas follows whatever Scalia does? Maybe, it’s the other way around.
How did I persuade a Supreme Court Justice to sign my Constitution? Strategery. It took several months of careful planning, but I got what I wanted. And this Constitution sits proudly on display in my office at Chambers, for all the World to see.
I never get tired of telling this story. Now I can just tell people to visit my blog. Check out my album of autographed Constitutions. Behind every Constitution is a different story. And following the tradition I started today, every Friday I will explore my wild tales with Article III.