Now that the drama over electing a new Speaker of the House has finally been resolved, California’s Representative-Elect Robert Garcia, the first openly gay immigrant elected to congress will be able to be ceremonially sworn in on a copy of the Constitution of the United States. Underneath it though will be “several sentimental items”, including a photo of Garcia’s parents who died of COVID-19, his citizenship certificate, and on loan from the Library of Congress, a copy of 1939’s Superman #1.
In a statement sent to CNN, Garcia said “I came to America at the age of 5 as a Spanish speaker. As a kid, I would pick up comics at old thrift shops and pharmacies and that’s how I learned to read and write in English.” To Garcia Superman represents “truth and justice, an immigrant that was different, was raised by good people that welcomed them.” He added, “If you look at Superman values, and caucus values, it’s about justice, it’s about honesty, it’s doing the right thing, standing up for people that need support.”
Garcia frequently tweets about comics on his official Twitter account, where he tweeted "I’ve always been a huge comics fan and in fact credit comics for helping me learn to read and write English. Comics have created the best characters in American fiction." Back in November, he tweeted about how excited he was that as a Congressman he’d have access to the Congressional members reading room in the Library of Congress, saying, “I can pull any comic book from what is the largest public comic collection in the country and read them there.” Part of this colleciton was donated to the Library of Congress by Stephen A. Geppi in 2018 (see "Diamond's Steve Geppi Donates Massive Collection to Library of Congress").
If you’re wondering if doing this is in any way legal, this is another example of a norm not being enshrined in law. According to Article VI of the US Constitution. "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States". Jane Campbell, president of the United States Historical Society said "there is no required text upon which an incoming officeholder must take their oath" and newly elected members have used texts that have included Jewish religious texts and the Quran.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.