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The Doctrine of Judicial Oligarchy

from the April 26, 2005 eNews issue
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"The Constitution is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." - Thomas Jefferson, Sept 6, 1819

The Supreme Court is currently considering cases from Kentucky and Texas concerning displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. The debate over the Ten Commandments is significant in and of itself, but it is also indicative of a much larger problem. Without regard for the clear intent of the law, an unbridled judiciary has twisted and contorted the principles upon which our nation was founded to better fit their own agendas and ideologies. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States, anticipated such an abuse of power when he wrote "...to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy...The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal...knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots."

Over the course of the last forty years there has been a radical shift in the role of the American judicial system, as a result of which our religious freedoms are being stripped away. Those who were appointed to interpret the law and secure justice for the American people have abused their power in order to manipulate public policy. That shift in principle directly hangs on one phrase: separation of church and state. A concept blatantly invented by the United States Supreme Court in order to justify their personal political and social agendas. This concept has eroded the foundation laid by the founding fathers of this nation, a foundation built on the existence an almighty and loving Creator.

First it is important to point out that the words "separation of church and state" are not found anywhere in the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or even the Declaration of Independence. That phrase comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The "wall of separation between church and state" that Jefferson referred to in his letter was clearly meant to protect religious freedom and prevent government from attempting to take away our God-given unalienable rights.

So how did the phrase "separation of church and state" become a part of our vocabulary? On June 25, 1962 in Engel v. Vitale the US Supreme Court used the "separation of church and state" argument as its basis for banning prayer in public schools. Their decision marked the turning point in the interpretation of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In 1962 the US Supreme Court ignored 170 years of history, legal precedent, and the clear intent of First Amendment, by interpreting that amendment to prohibit religious activities in public settings. The 1962 ruling was the first case in Supreme Court history that did not cite any previous precedents or legal cases in making its decision. Within a year of the court's ruling Bible reading, religious classes, and religious instruction in public schools were also declared unconstitutional.

Another dangerous trend that pervades both our judiciary and the press is the substitution of the word "endorsement" for the word "establishment" when discussing the First Amendment. It is a common practice that often goes unnoticed, but when considering constitutional matters semantics are of vital importance. When the Supreme Court changed their interpretation of the First Amendment its decision hinged on the definition of the word "establishment". Using the words "endorsement" and "establishment" interchangeably completely transforms the scope of the separation of church and state debate. The Establishment Clause was intended to prevent the government from passing laws that would create an official state denomination or sect such as the Church of England, which yielded undue political power in the days of the American Revolution. Today, some would like to interpret the word "establishment" to prevent our government from even acknowledging a Divine Creator.

In 2000, in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled a voluntary student-lead prayer before a football game to be unconstitutional because the student was chosen to speak in an election sanctioned by the school administration. In his dissent to the decision Chief Justice William Rehnquist summed up the attitude of the court by saying: "...even more disturbing than its holding is the tone of the Court's opinion; it bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life. Neither the holding nor the tone of the opinion is faithful to the meaning of the Establishment Clause, when it is recalled that George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."


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Related Links:

  •   Division of Church, State At High Court - Washington Post
  •   Bill Would Allow Posting of Ten Commandments in House Chambers - Des Moines Register
  •   State Argues Religion Doesn't Belong on License Plate - WCAX
  •   Faith 'War' Rages in U.S., Judge Says - LA Times
  •   100 Milestone Documents of US Government - National Archives and Records Administration
  •   Strategic Trends: The Decline of the US - Koinonia House