“Scopes Courtroom” Hosts Harlan Bible Dedication

Local judges receive symbolic Bibles

Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel holds newly presented

Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel holds newly presented “Harlan Bible” with Retired Judge Darrell White of the American Judicial Alliance holding Justice John Marshall Harlan’s Bible from 1906. (photo: Rhea Review)March 16, 2015

Dayton, Tenn. — Surrounded by the same walls which held “The World’s Most Famous Court Trial” nearly 90 years before, those in attendance witnessed a momentous occasion as three local judges each accepted a Bible from the American Judicial Alliance.


Retired Judge Darrell White at Rhea County Historic Courthouse. (photo: Rhea Review)

Retired Judge Darrell White, who on behalf of the AJA, presented the “Harlan Bibles” to Rhea County General Sessions Judge Shannon Garrison, Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel, and Chattanooga City Court Judge Russell Beene, says being at Rhea County’s Historic Courthouse was a dream come true.

“This is an honor of a lifetime,” White says.  “I have literally looked forward to this as long as I have been interested in origin science and as long as I have been interested in law.  To be here where William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow litigated that case.  It’s just an answer to a prayer for me.”

The significance of the setting wasn’t lost others either.   Rhea County Historical Committee chair Tom Davis said, “The Scopes’ Trial in large measure dealt with the very issue of where the Bible fits in real life.”

“I am grateful the AJA is here to present a Bible to our judges and hope it will be a guiding light for them,” said Davis.

An inspirational sense of humility appeared to overtake each judge as they received their Bible.  Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel, who hears cases in Rhea and five other counties, stated he would like to see one in every courtroom in the 12th Judicial District.

“It’s a book I derive much guidance and wisdom,” Angel said.  “I feel blessed to receive such a special Bible, knowing the history of the Harlan Bible.”

Thus far, White, a semi-retired judge from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has presented nearly 200 “Harlan Bibles” to judges across the country with hopes to have one in every courtroom in the nation.

About the “Harlan Bible”

The “Harlan Bible” is an Oxford Sunday School Teachers Edition King James Version Bible with blank pages for notes.  In 1906, Justice John Marshall Harlan, I (1833-1911) gave his own Bible to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). It has become known as the “Harlan Bible” and is maintained by the Court’s Curator. Since its presentation, the Harlan Bible’s flyleaf pages have been signed by every justice in succession shortly after taking the oath of office.

According to the AJA website, Justice David Souter said that signing the Harlan Bible “was the most humbling thing that I have ever done in my entire life.” Justice Samuel Alito also wrote what a “thrilling and awe-inspiring moment” it was when he signed his name alongside “all the Justices for the past 100 years.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “taking the oath with my hand on Justice Harlan’s bible” was among the “most symbolically meaningful” activities of her investiture.

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