"Oyez, Oyez, Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and the Honorable Court."
What you just read is what the Justices hear as they stand behind their desks while the crier announces the formal opening of each session of the Court. As the justices take their seat the crier's voice is raised as he impressively calls out the above, "Oyez…God save the United States and the Honorable Court."
Engraved in stone above the head of the Chief Justice are the Ten Commandments with the great American eagle protecting them. Underneath are these words regarding Moses who is holding the Ten Commandments: "Lawgiver of the Israelites, His Mosaic Law, which is based on the tablets of Hebraic Law, or the Ten Commandments, determined the criminal code and liturgical law." (Per letter from Religious Freedom Survey by Donald E. Wildmon, AFA Pres., PO Drawer 2440, Tupelo, MI, ,38803 9/97. Page 595 of America's God and Country Encyclopedia Of Quotations, by Wm. J. Federer, Fame Pub.,Coppell, TX)). Moses is included among the great lawgivers in Herman A. MacNeil's marble sculpture group on the east front. Other Christian symbols are portrayed in the courtroom and on the buildings exterior.
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever." - Thomas Jefferson
Senator Byrd (1918 -1966) said that the above words of Jefferson were "a forceful and explicit warning that to remove God from this country will destroy it." (p. 85 of America's God & Country Encyclopedia of Quotations)
The Supreme Court is the highest tribunal, court, or judiciary in this nation for all cases and controversies pertaining to the Constitution or the laws of the United States. As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law. It also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. Early in our history the Justices were strict constitutionalists. Today, some say, they tend through their decisions to be molders of culture, makers of law in contrast to the original intention of our founders who set up the three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. They may be taking out of the hands of the American people the most basic moral and cultural decisions. Robert Bork, in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, said that the judicial is our only branch of government without checks and balances. Bork says that there are two ways to repair this. One is a Constitutional Amendment which would give the legislative branch power of legislative review and to make laws to overrule the Supreme Court, the other would be to impeach any Justice who overstepped his/her bounds. In his First Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln said, "The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal." Lincoln was thinking of Dred Scott, the infamous decision that created a constitutional right to own slaves.
In 1892 our Supreme Court Decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States said, "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian…This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth…These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation." The Supreme Court studied this for 10 years before writing this unanimous decision which clearly states that we are not a pluralistic, but we are a Christian nation.
In 1931, in the case of United States v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605 the court said, "We are a Christian people…according to one another the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledge with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God."
In 1952 the Supreme Court, in the case of Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 307 313 stated: "We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being…When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. We cannot read into the Bill of Rights a philosophy of hostility to religion."
In 1963 the Supreme Court, in the case of School District of Abington Township v Schempp, 374 U.S. 203,212,225 pp.21, 71, records: "The State may not establish a 'religion of secularism' in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe."
In 1980, the Supreme Court, in the case of Stone v. Grahamn, 449 U.S. 39,42,46 said: "The Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like."
In 1993. In the case of Jones v Clear Creek Independent School District, 977, F.2d 963,972 (5th Cir.), upheld the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision permitting student-initiated prayer at high school graduation ceremonies, providing a majority of the class votes to do so. "There is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect."
Look for the Ten Commandments on the walls of the Supreme Court. They are represented by the shape of the Tablets.
When you visit Washington, DC, and our Supreme Court look for the Ten Commandments on the walls of the Supreme Court. They are represented by the shape of the Tablets.
Photograph as much of the Christian history as you can.
VOCABULARY words to look up: authority, fasces, amendment, judiciary, Constitutionality.
IDEAS or CONCEPTS to DISCUSS with your friends:
Strict vs. Loose interpretation, "Equal Justice Under Law", civil rights First Amendment, gun control, censorship
HANDS ON PROJECTS for the CREATIVE:
1. Choose an amendment and discuss how it personally affects you.
2. Write an opinion about a local school or community issue as if you were a particular Justice. Send your article to your local newspaper or a magazine.
3. Think of a current issue. Have a mock trial with your friends complete with Justices and lawyers. Write out your decision, all of you sign it and send it to some newspapers.
4. Discuss the origin of law. Debate it with someone. Write out your position. Call up a Talk Show Radio or TV show and give them your thoughts.
5. Read some of the writings of Montesquieu who was quoted 8.3% of the time by our founding fathers. "God is related to the universe, as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them." p54 Christianity and the Constitution.
6. Read the Bible which was quoted 34% of the time by our founding fathers.
7. Read some of Blackstone's Commentary (Renowned English jurist who set the foundation for our great legal minds and who was quoted 7.9% of the time between 1705-1805.
8. If you think you might want to be a lawyer write out the steps that you would need to take to achieve your goal.
9. Discuss the importance of The Ten Commandments in the laws of any land.
10. Plan to photograph the Christian heritage that you see carved in stone anywhere in your community. Send a copy to your local newspaper and to Friends of Help Save America, PO Box 59147, Norwalk, CA 90650. 562-863-7783.
11. Imagine that you are accused of a crime. Think through your defense. Try your own case like in #3 above.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Supreme Court Public Information Office Supreme Court 1st Street NE Washington, D.C. 20540 (202) 479-3211