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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Most Interesting Press Conference This Month

For interested web-surfers, C-SPAN has archived the press conference that occurred outside of the U.S. Supreme Court following the arguments in the Ten Commandments cases.

While the competition is probably pretty thin in this category, to my mind it has to be the most interesting media availability this month.

David Friedman, General Counsel of Kentucky ACLU, asserted that the state and federal governments violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution when they “take a position about what religious belief or religious practice is right or wrong.” While that sounds moderately plausible, Mr. Friedman and the ACLU go on to explain that the State of Texas “takes a position on what religious belief is right” when it permits a replica of the Ten Commandments to be placed on the grounds of the State Capitol.

But that cannot be the law.

By the very same logic, government posting of the Declaration of Independence would be likewise forbidden. The Declaration expresses the Founders' belief that we were “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights;” asserts that the “laws of nature and of nature's God” entitle Americans to live independently; includes the Continental Congress' appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions;” and concludes with the signers announcing their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” when mutually pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Frankly, we're in quite a pickle if government may not lawfully repeat (or suggest approval of) the premises upon which our Nation was founded – because someone might be offended by the Founders’ views. The rule urged by the ACLU would be devastating.

Likewise interesting, although on another point, were the remarks of Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice. Sekulow declared that it “was very clear, with the Court’s repeated references to their own frieze, which has Moses holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments – a depiction with the words in Hebrew – that this Court is not going to order the sandblasting or removal of these Ten Commandment monuments.”

To my mind, the remark is true, but chilling. It is chilling because it again raises the “politics of I,” of which the High Court is so very fond. The remarks suggest that the Court will fashion a rule that is broad enough to have it avoid redecorating its own Courthouse, but still so narrow that it cabins out important parts of the Nation’s culture, history, traditions and architecture. For that reason, Sekulow's comments left me afraid that even if the state governments “win” their respective battles, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce a reading of the Establishment Clause that would have all of us “losing” the overall war.

Believe me, I share the Founders' “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” But we could really, really use His intervention now….