Justice Antonin Scalia and the Many Pretenders

I got a message last week that said: “Antonin Scalia is now following you on Twitter!” Despite our many years of interaction, I suspected this Scalia wasn’t the real one. I know he has an iPad and is pretty digital for a 75-year-old who works in the cloister of the Marble Palace. But he’s no Justice Stephen Breyer, who has a Twitter account –although Breyer does call it the “tweeter thing”.

I confirmed with the Court that the Twitter-joining “Antonin Scalia” is not the opinion-writing one. And I couldn’t help but be reminded of other fake Scalias that have come my way over the years. There was the fish called Scalia that I learned about during research for a 2002 newspaper profile. A Louisiana State University student had named a pet fish after Scalia, but not with his well-known nickname “Nino.” Rather, the student named him “Justice Scalia” and went on to say that “Justice Scalia ate all the others” in the tank.

I discovered another pinching of the Scalia name when I was doing research on American Original and my father, a lawyer who played the ponies, saw a horse named Scalia in the Racing Form. My father observed that the sire was named Holy Bull and believed there must be a connection. When I asked Justice Scalia about it, he said he had never heard of the horse and doubted it had anything to do with him. Out of curiosity and as a nod to my late father, I followed up on that horse as I was finishing the book. I found the Lexington, Kentucky, breeder, who told me that the horse’s name was indeed a tribute to the justice. The breeder, it turned out, was especially pleased with result in Bush v. Gore. I don’t think this new “Antonin Scalia,” who’s been firing off some of his own tweets, is the same guy.