April 14, 2014

The Supreme Bobbleheads


Scott: You typically see bobbleheads of world-class athletes, movie stars, or even other notable figures. Well, Demetrius Pipkin is going to tell us about one law professor who had his own idea about who should be the in the next wobbly lineup.

Demetrius: The U.S. Supreme Court justices are usually seen like this. Serious and somber in their black robes. That is until a Washington, D.C. law professor re-imagined them as bobbleheads. Which he says isn’t strange at all.

Professor Ross Davies: Only to the extent that you think that the Supreme Court can only be serious.

Demetrius: When Professor Ross Davies came up with the idea to create them ten years ago, there were definitely some skeptics.

Professor Davies: I teach law. And at the time I did this, I went to my dean, who is a very good-humored fellow, and said I’m going to produce a bobblehead of Chief Justice Rehnquist. And he said, ‘That’s fine, but I don’t want to have to do with it’.

Demetrius: But the former chief justice was flattered and even sent Davies a thank you note. The collection now includes nine current or recent justices, and there are a lot of people who want them. But their bobbleheads are not for sale. You can only get one by subscribing to the academic legal journal The Green Bag. And then when one is released, you have to pick it up in person. But San Francisco lawyer Rob James doesn’t mind jumping through the hoops.

Rob James: If you happen to come at the right time, and there happens to be someone there, and there happens to be a bobblehead, you can walk off with your prize.

Demetrius: For many, the Supreme Court justices are celebrities. The nine justices of the Supreme Court serve for life. They are appointed by the president and then confirmed by the Senate. The Supreme Court decides the biggest cases across the country, whether the laws uphold the Constitution.

Each bobblehead is a mini history lesson. Like retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor standing next to a cow.

Professor Davies: She grew up on a ranch in Arizona and has been quite forthright in some of her writings about the influence of her upbringing on her work as a judge and as a public servant.

Demetrius: Others have symbols representing their key cases. Like on Justice Souter, he is known for being a private person, but his bobblehead is sporting large gold chains.

Professor Davies: It’s a contrast between his, sort of, public persona and some of his work.

Demetrius: The bling represents a copyright case that he wrote involving the hip-hop group 2 Live Crew. The lifeguard chair symbolizes a discrimination case involving lifeguards decided back in 1998.

The newest bobblehead is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Professor Davies: The artist captures someone. You look at a painting, or you look at a bobblehead, and, ‘Oh my gosh! It’s them!’

Demetrius: Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.


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