Scalia, Eggnog, and Christmas Party Chatter

The Supreme Court’s Christmas Party is a lavish and festive affair, with bowls of eggnog, platters of shrimp, and a caroling session led by the chief justice. Held in the Great Hall, the party usually draws a majority of the justices, as it did this year, and most of the Court staff. 

When I saw Justice Scalia at this year’s party, it was the first time I had talked to him since American Original’s official debut. His first question: How’s it selling? I told him that he was beating out other bios of judges and legal figures, yet left in the dust of real celebs like Andre Agassi. He told me of various family doings, including that another grandchild was on the way. That would make thirty-one grandchildren for Scalia and his wife, Maureen.

 Friends (and talk-show hosts; see Mike Gousha’s WISN-ABC  program in Milwaukee; Diane Rehm’s WAMU-NPR show in Washington, D.C., for example) often ask what my subject thinks of the book. With Justice O’Connor and with Justice Scalia, I never asked and they didn’t tell. I presumed both found things to like and not to like. I wrote for a larger reading public and continue to – like my current subject – be more interested in how the book is selling to a broad audience. Coincidentally, when I first ran into Justice O’Connor after the fall 2005 publication of my biography, her first question was, “How are sales?” When I related the exchange to a friend and suggested the justice was showing a real interest in the book, he scoffed and said, “She probably wants to make sure it isn’t doing better than Lazy B,” O’Connor’s memoir of her ranch childhood. I thought my friend had a point. And that may be the case with Scalia, who is promoting his own book (on oral advocacy), too.  The word at the Court – and I didn’t ask about this over eggnog – is that Justice Scalia hasn’t given his approval for American Original to be sold in the book section of the Court gift shop. Maybe after the Christmas shopping season. Maybe not.