On Saturday, US Congressman Robert Garcia (D-CA) was sworn in with his hand on the first issue of the Superman comic book from 1939. The comic—which he borrowed from the Library of Congress—was accompanied by a copy of the US Constitution, Garcia's US citizenship certificate, and a photograph of his parents who died from COVID-19.
"I came to America at the age of 5 as a Spanish-speaker," Garcia, the first LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress, told CNN. "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."
[Superman represents] "truth and justice, an immigrant that was different, was raised by good people that welcomed them. 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."
After the ceremony, the comic—under police escort—was returned to the Library of Congress.
Garcia's unique selection was perfectly legal. Though Bibles and other religious texts are common sights at a swearing-in ceremonies, "there is no required text upon which an incoming officeholder must take their oath," Jane Campbell, president of the United States Capitol Historical Society, tells BBC News' Brandon Drenon. In fact, the Constitution specifically forbids the use of a "religious test" to hold office in the U.S.
Instead, lawmakers and others are free to request texts or objects that have personal meaning.