‘Harlan’ Bibles to create new tradition in local courts

By Tom Bonnette
(318) 487-6340

PINEVILLE — Local judges Tuesday signed their “John Hancocks” at a Pineville Kiwanis Club meeting in replicas of the Bible that holds the signature of every U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 1906 to start a new tradition in local courts.

Judges who received “Harlan Bibles” for their courts said they will follow the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court by inviting all judges who serve to sign their names in the inside leaflets of the same Bible. The four Bibles, copies of the Harlan Bible held by the U.S. Supreme Court Curator, is similar to the Bible donated to the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice John Marshall Harlan in 1906. That bible has been signed by justices joining the Supreme Court for more than 100 years.

The Bibles were donated by Retired Judges of America and presented by retired Baton Rouge City Judge Darrell White. White said he has presented 20 to 30 similar Bibles on behalf of RJA since the organization began a campaign last year to distribute them.

The campaign, White said, is designed to encourage judges to hold fast to principles inherit in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

White said those principles include a belief in God and the teachings of the Bible and often are absent in today’s court rooms.

“That might make some people uncomfortable, but it’s the reason that ‘In God We Trust’ is on our money and all over Washington, D.C.,” White said.

Judges who accepted the Bibles were Pineville City Court Judge Phillip Terrell, 9th Judicial District Court Judge Harry F. Randow, former Alexandria City Court Judge George Foote, 9th Judicial District Court Judge John Davidson and 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr.

“If we look at history, a lot of nations have come and gone,” White said. “America is a great nation, but a nation can’t shake its fist in God’s face and still expect God’s blessings.”

Terrell said he is proud that his name will be among the first in Pineville’s copy of the Harlan Bible.

“It’s a honor to accept the Bible on behalf of (Pineville) City Court,” he said. “I was very touched and moved. We frequently forget that the laws we use every day in court come from the laws of God.”

Justice Harlan, who donated the original Bible that bears his name to the Supreme Court, 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.

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