The Supreme Court justice bobbleheads that you see on the desks or mantels of lawyers around town will soon have a new colleague to keep them company. This one depicts Justice Clarence Thomas, just in time for his 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court in October.
It's the latest creation of the unconventional law review Green Bag and its editor Ross Davies, professor at George Mason University School of Law. Thomas is the eighth modern-day justice memorialized with a bobblehead, along with six justices from earlier in the Court's history.
As with the others, the Clarence Thomas bobblehead doesn't just bobble; it tells a story, through the meticulous iconography that surrounds the justice.
For example, Thomas is shown standing on two pizza boxes, a reference to Thomas's statement in the 2005 case National Cable & Telecomm. Association v. Brand X Internet Services, "One can pick up a pizza rather than having it delivered, and one can own a dog without buying a leash. By contrast, the [Federal Communications] Commission reasonably concluded, a consumer cannot purchase Internet service without also purchasing a connection to the Internet."
Likewise, Thomas is holding an American flag which has on the reverse side the text of the 1954 federal law that added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. The law was at issue in the 2004 case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, in which Thomas wrote a concurrence asserting the unusual view that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause does not protect an individual right or apply against state laws. The full annotation of the imagery is available at the Green Bag Web site.
As usual, the Thomas bobblehead is not for sale. "We make them for the joy of it, and then we give them away," explains Davies. The bobbleheads, made by Alexander Global Promotions, mainly go to Green Bag subscribers, though some find their way into law school charity promotions and the like. The bobbleheads also tend to make their way into the justices' chambers, to the general amusement of the members of the Court.
Davies confirms that the next bobblehead, going by Supreme Court seniority, will be Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, unless he decides to put out another historical figure.