Via American Minute:
The first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was the president
of the American Bible Society. Who was he?
John Jay, who died MAY 17, 1829.
A member of the Continental Congress, even serving as its president, John Jay signed the Treaty of Paris with Franklin and Adams, ending the Revolutionary War.
Jay helped ratify the Constitution by writing the Federalist Papers with Madison and Hamilton.
In 1777, John Jay told an Ulster County Grand Jury:
“The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favoured with an opportunity of…choosing the forms of government under which they should live.”
To the New York Convention, December 23, 1776, John Jay said:
“When you have done all things, then rely upon the good Providence of Almighty God for success, in full confidence that without his blessings, all our efforts will inevitably fail.”
“The Holy Gospels are yet to be preached to these western regions, and we have the highest reason to believe that the Almighty will not suffer slavery and the gospel to go hand in hand. It cannot, it will not be.”
On May 17, 1829, as he was dying, John Jay was asked if he had any last words for his children.
He replied: “They have the Book.”
“If [a law] is wrong, the ultimate precedent is the Constitution. It’s not what we say it is, it’s what it actually says. And I think we have to be humble enough to say ‘we were wrong.'”
— Justice Clarence Thomas, February 2009
Thomas was responding to a question about the Court’s review of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law. His quote echoes former Justice Felix Frankfurter (who happened to have been the president of the ACLU before his court days). Here is Frankfurter’s quote:
“The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution, and not what we have said about it.” — Felix Frankfurter, Graves v. New York, 306 US 466 (1939)
Here is an audio clip of Justice Thomas’ remarks:
Here are a few more quotes to chew on:
“[I]n the lapse of [time], changes have taken place which in particular passages … obscure the sense of the original … [and] present wrong signification or false ideas. Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced …. mistakes may be very injurious.” Noah Webster in Preface of the Webster Bible
“Though written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally.” — Thomas Jefferson
“On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p322.
“The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all instruments is, to construe them according to the sense of the terms, and the intentions of the parties.” Justice Joseph Story, III Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States §400 (1883) at p383
“There was a time in U.S. history when American school children began each day with public prayer. The entire class prayed together. That is now “illegal.” This is why:
• The Supreme Court first ruled against public school prayer in the 1962 case of Engle v. Vitale. The decision struck down a New York State law that required public schools to begin the school day either with Bible reading or recitation of a specially-written, nondenominational prayer.
• One year later, in Abington vs. Shempp (1963), the Supreme Court struck down voluntary Bible readings and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools.
1. In this context, our kids can no longer pray in public. There have been many ensuing court cases over the liberty to engage in public prayer:
“U.S. Supreme Court rules, 6-3, that prayer before football games in Texas is unconstitutional,”
“School Faces Big Legal Fees In Prayer Lawsuit.”
“Florida school officials in prayer case could get jail time.”
“School district faces second lawsuit over prayer”
2. There have been multiple court cases against students who have or open Bibles:
“Lawsuit claims students not allowed to carry Bibles” http://www.adherents.com/misc/school_houston.html
“Bible study banned on playgrounds”
“Gideons Forbidden From Distributing Bibles at School”
“Bibles Banned in Bible Belt”
“Bible Banned From School Football Field”
“High School Cheerleaders Banned From Using Bible Verses”
“The Bible Banned at a New Jersey School” http://smartgirlpolitics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-bible-banned-at-a-new
“Bibles banned at Stigler Oklahoma library”
3. Display the Ten Commandments in a public place, and you could end up in court.
“U.S. Government bans Ten Commandments from Public Places”
“Ten Commandments monument moved. New poll says Americans disapprove of federal court order.”
“Ninth Circuit Sued For Displaying Ten Commandments”
“Chief Justice Roy Moore removed for acknowledging God–Ten Commandments Inquisition”
American Judicial Alliance is asking judges to return to their Oaths to protect and defend the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land.
This exerpt from “Powers of the American people, Congress, President, and courts: (according to the evolution of constitutional construction)” by Masuji Miyakawa, was published in 1908 by the Baker & Taylor co. (pp. 346-349) Mr. Miyakawa grasped in 1908 the same essense of what America needs today. [Bonus: Look for Justice Harlan to show up after the jump!]
“Strange to say, the American judges, ever since the organization of the Government, have been the least criticised and least arraigned public officers. On the contrary they have been the most respected and most honored among all the dignitaries of America. We may attribute this strange phenomenon to the fact that the only thing which the American will obey is law and the only thing in which he will know the meaning of obedience is his relation to law. The judges of the United States and of the several States are thoroughly conscious of their exceptional privileges and immunities; also of their correspondingly great responsibilities as the only interpreters of the law, to whom alone the final construction of the law of the land is unreservedly entrusted.
All the American judges realize this. The American people know that the strictest obedience to law is the foundation stone of the strength and permanence of the republic. This has been understood by the American people ever since they founded their country. Departure from this common understanding tends to involve national ruin by creating anarchy. Superficial observers who see but the so called material side of American progress, or those who are devotees of the game of profit, do wrong when they do not appreciate the fundamental proposition that the people are the backbone of progress.
Such superficiality not only fails to grasp the true situation, but also fails to appreciate the true meaning of the beneficent opportunity upon which the Americans build their higher and nobler civilization. The statements recently made that the American people have changed their allegiance from the great principles which they embodied in the Declaration of Independence to the worship of the almighty dollar, and that the American people have changed from their appreciation of the Bible to the worship of the sword are evidence of the fact that their authors are but shallow students of the America of to day.
To illustrate the fallacy of such statements: Continue reading