After sitting through the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial proceeding—12 dignitaries took the mic before him—Scalia stood at a podium on the floor of the Texas House and gave a four-minute and 47-second speech. Then Scalia said it was time for the oath for Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justice Jeff Brown. Alas, he had to return to his seat instead.
“We have one more speaker, and then we’ll do it,” said Hecht from the dias.
“Alright, I’ll be back,” Scalia said to the chuckling crowd, which filled every seat on the floor and nearly ever spot in the gallery.
Earlier in his short speech, Scalia stayed true to form with his reputation for passionate opinions on the U.S. Constitution. He explained that while investitures are an honor, the constitution is the real reason for the ceremony.
“It says all officers both of the federal government and of the states—the executive, legislative and judicial—shall be bound to support the Constitution of the United States. The oath I administer today fulfills that obligation,” said Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court’s liaison to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Texas.
He noted that the very first bill by the 1789 U.S. Congress determined the words of the oath, which just tracked the constitutional language. But during the Civil War, the oath changed to include swearing to defend “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” among other changes.
He said, “Your Texas oath doesn’t have that—It will make it shorter.”
The proceeding was purely ceremonial, since Hecht and Brown both took their oaths in early October and they’ve been at work since then.
— Angela Morris