Wednesday, February 06, 2008

John Eidsmoe

John Eidsmoe: "A CALL TO STAND WITH CHIEF JUSTICE MOORE"

The storm of moral crisis has descended upon Alabama. Among the most vital issues facing American jurisprudence are (1) whether our legal system may acknowledge the Higher Law of God as the source and measure of our laws; (2) whether the establishment clause of the First Amendment prohibits the State of Alabama from acknowledging God and His law as the moral foundation of law; (3) whether the State of Alabama (and the 49 other states) are distinctive and viable entities in the American constitutional system or whether they are merely closely supervised subdivisions of a national government; and (4) whether it is ever appropriate to disobey the order of a federal judge.

All of these issues come together in the Alabama Ten Commandments case, often cited as Glassroth v. Moore.

The symbolic portrayal could not be more graphic. In the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery stands a 5,280 lb granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments, with various quotations from America's founding fathers on the monument's four sides. Just a few blocks away, in front of the Federal Court House, stands a sculpture of Themis, the Greek goddess of law and justice. The Ten Commandments monument was financed entirely with private donations; Themis was paid for by federal funds. And yet, Themis is guarded by federal officers, while U.S. District Court Myron Thompson has ruled that the Ten Commandments monument must be removed from the Judicial Building rotunda.

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Alabama has an unprecedented opportunity to stand in the gap with Chief Justice Moore and resist this federal usurpation of state authority and federal dismantling of America's Biblical heritage. If the Governor, the Attorney General, and the eight Associate Justices had stood with Chief Justice Moore, if Governor Riley had issued the call on statewide television for Alabamians to come to the Judiciary Building by the thousands to stand against the removal of the Ten Commandments, if the pastors of Alabama had joined in calling upon their parishioners to respond with a massive but peaceful protest, Judge Thompson could not have enforced his order, and the federal judiciary would have had to retreat.

I regret that the eight associate justices did not join with Chief Justice Moore as did the Justices of the Supreme Court of Utah in 1968. In Dyett v. Turner, 439 P.2d 266, the Utah Supreme Court stood against the usurpations of the Warren Court, stating:

"The United States Supreme Court, as at present constituted, has departed from the Constitution as it has been interpreted from its inception and has followed the urgings of social reformers in foisting upon this Nation laws which even Congress could not constitutionally pass. It has amended the Constitution in a manner unknown to the document itself. While it takes three-fourths of the states of the Union to change the Constitution legally, yet as few as five men who have never been elected to office can by judicial fiat accomplish a change just as radical as could three-fourths of the states of this Nation. As a result of the recent holdings of that Court, the sovereignty of the states is practically abolished, and the erstwhile free and independent states are now in effect and purpose merely closely supervised units in the federal system.

We do not believe that justices of once free and independent states should surrender their constitutional powers without being heard from. We would betray the trust of our people if we sat supinely by and permitted the great bulk of our powers to be taken over by the federal courts without at lest stating reasons why it should not be so. By attempting to save the dual relationship which has heretofore existed between state and federal authority, and which is clearly set out in the Constitution, we think we act in the best interest of our country.

We feel like galley slaves chained to our oars by a power from which we cannot free ourselves, but like the slaves of old we think we must cry out when we can see the boat heading into the maelstrom directly ahead of us; and by doing so, we hope the master of the craft will heed the call and avert the dangers which confront us all.

But by raising our voices in protest we, like the galley slaves of old, expect to be lashed for doing so. We are confident that we will not be struck by 90 percent of the people of this Nation who long for the return to the days when the Constitution was a document plain enough to be understood by all who read it, the meaning of which was set firmly like a jewel in the matrix of common sense and wise judicial decisions.

... When we bare our backs to receive the verbal lashes, we will try to be brave; and should the great court of these United States decide that in our thinking we have been in error, then we shall indeed feel honored, for we will then be placed on an equal footing with all those great justices who at this late date are also said to have been in error for so many years."

I deeply regret that the other Justices have not seen fit to join with Chief Justice Moore in resisting this federal judge's attempt to prohibit us from acknowledging the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of law. But other judges, legislators and public officials have stood with Chief Justice Moore, and it is therefore of crucial importance that the people of Alabama rally to the Chief Justice's defense.

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And in the evening of your life, when your grandchildren ask what you did during the constitutional crisis over the Ten Commandments, what will you tell them?

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

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