A Historical Hat

Justices Breyer and Scalia stand out in different variations of traditional legal headgear in this photo from the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration. 

Supreme Court Justices at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Justice Breyer is wearing a legal skullcap, a fashion that has come and gone among Supreme Court Justices over the years. 

Justice Scalia’s cap, a gift from the Thomas More Society (Internet Archive link), was modeled after one worn by Sir Thomas More in his portrait by Hans Holbein. 

Sir Thomas Moore Engraving, after the portrait by Holbein

This 1793 engraving, based on the Holbein portrait clearly shows the inspiration for Justice Scalia's hat.  Our 1530 portrait of More, which currently hangs in the Casperson Room, shows him wearing a similar hat. 

Many observers wondered about Justice Scalia’s choice – was it just fashion, or was it intended to send a political message?