Prayers at graduation ceremonies are in the news again as a federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment’s “non-establishment” clause forbids even student-initiated supplications.
The federal judge’s last sentence of the article linked above [“We don’t put the Constitution to a vote,”] illustrates an important distinction between pure democracy and the rule of law under a constitutional republic. But it neglects the crucial point that, as ACLU co-founder Justice Felix Frankfurter once acknowledged,
“The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution and not what we [the justices] have said about it.” -Felix Frankfurter, concurring in Graves v. New York, 306 US 466, 491-2 (1939)
We may take comfort from the assurance of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the “separation of church and state” metaphor that has so clouded First Amendment jurisprudence: “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.”
It was Justice Byron White who recently noted that “The Court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law [sic] having little or no recognizable roots in the language or design of the Constitution.”
Small wonder that recent polling suggests that 77% of Americans believe our courts have gone too far in restricting free exercise of religion; 76% support public displays of Ten Commandments; and 90% support keeping “one nation under God” in our Pledge.
Founder and Patriot John Adams once remarked to Governor Dickinson that “We Americans are not to be conjured out of our senses by the words ‘British Empire’ as we know that Britain is a constitutional monarchy.”
Similarly, we Americans today are not to be “conjured out of our senses” by the words “separation of church and state.” Let’s continue to defend our Constitution’s text and heritage as we stand for “separation of atheism and state.”
As George Orwell once observed, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” AJA’s point in calling attention to America’s “Organic Laws” is to espouse the obvious reality contained in our Declaration of Independence – that is, that law comes from God and the self-evident reality of objective truth. In other words, the inscription on America’s coins is the “National Motto” and not the “National Anachronism” [i.e., “out-of-date application or wrong-period attribution of an event”]
And let’s remember that it was judges’ “perversion of judgment” rather than “walking in God’s ways” that was the catalyst directly resulting in the leaders of Israel abandonment of self-government under God to ask for a king (i.e. authoritarianism) in 1 Samuel 8:3+.
Otherwise, we abandon our children to an “Orwellian” future:
“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently. “How can I help it?” he blubbered. “How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.” “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.” -George Orwell, 1984
Justice Clarence Thomas deserves commendation for suggesting that “a more fundamental rethinking of…Establishment Clause jurisprudence remains in order.” My expectation is that those prayer-wishful students in Indiana would say, “Amen to that!”
Article From the Franklin Sun:
Appealing to a Higher Court
Retired Judge Brings Bibles to the Bench
By Tom Bonnette, The Franklin Sun, May 12th, 2010, Page 7A
The Bible is a fundamental building block of our nation’s legal system and retired Baton Rouge City Judge Darrell White wants to make sure that isn’t forgotten. White, who is on a quest to place “Harlan Bibles” in every courtroom in the country, is founder of the American Judicial Alliance, a non-profit research and education organization dedicated to “awaken the conscience of one nation under God” by recapturing the vitality of America’s organic laws – the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. He was in Franklin Parish Friday at the Winnsboro Rotary Club’s monthly luncheon at Brown’s Landing to ask for prayers and support.
“We are asking people like you, who think that this is important, to help us to put one of these Bibles in every single courtroom in America,” White said. The Bible is a replica of the Bible donated by to the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice John Marshall Harlan in 1906. The original Harlan Bible is kept by the Supreme Court Curator and holds the signatures of every U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 1906 when it was donated. Judges have been invited to sign the inside leaflets of the more than 100 Bibles donated by the Retired Judges of America that White has helped place in courtrooms over the last few years.
He believes the Bibles will serve as a reminder that we are “one nation under God” and that the U.S. Constitution should be the guiding factor in our judicial system. “It’s the supreme law of the land. Unless we pay attention to it, it’s just so many words,” White said. “The question is whether or not we are going to follow the Constitution and adhere to it.”
A Harlan Bible donated to the Fifth Judicial District Court by the RJA a year ago that is signed by Judge E. Rudolph Mclntyre and Judge Terry A. Doughty was on display at the luncheon. To help White place similar Bibles in other courtrooms, the Winnsboro Rotary Club donated $150. More is needed, said Jason Stern, vice president of AJA. “Every little bit that we can gather together helps us make a difference in bringing back our nation to the nation of our founders for the next generation,” Stern said. Justice Harlan is best remembered as the lone dissenting voice in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, in which a Louisiana statue that called for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” was upheld as constitutional. To help the RJA and AJA donate Bibles, call (225) 615-7337.
“American Judicial Alliance’s presentation should be required for all Supreme Court nominees and sitting Federal Judges.”
— Congressman Ted Poe
“I am so impressed with the great work you are doing! You have a powerful team working with you. America needs you more than ever. You give me hope!”
– William J. Federer, Jr.
Speaker and best-selling Author
“More than anything, thank you for the Harlan Bible. Our nine judges all thank you for your kindness and your effort!”
– Judge Harmon Drew, Jr.
Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal
“I appreciate your efforts to restore some morality in our courts.”
– Retired Judge William N. Knight
31st Judicial District Court of Louisiana
“The judges are already tracking down their predecessors to have each one sign the Bible you presented in the tradition of the Supreme Court. Thanks again!”
–Retired Judge Tim Taft
Texas First Court of Appeals
What Supreme Court Justices are saying about the Harlan Bible:
“It was a thrilling moment when I signed my name in the Bible which…contains the signatures of all the Justices for the past 100 years. Thank you for sending your article…. I found it inspiring.
–Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
“I read with special interest your account of the first Justice Harlan and his Bible.… Thank you for an engaging pause in the day’s occupations.”
—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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.”
Retired Judge Darrell White has received several acknowledgment letters from active United States Supreme Court Justices complimentary of his analysis of the history associated with the venerable tradition of the Harlan Bible.
You can read the full article, “Historical Significance of a Kentucky Colonel Named Harlan,” as published in the Baton Rouge Bar Journal by clicking here.
Here are a few of these interesting letters: