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The Ten Commandments once posted in County Circuit Judge Roy Moore’s courtroom
“Throughout America’s rich history,” asserts a Tennessee House Resolution that was passed 98-0 this week, “both the citizenry and their elected officials alike have deeply respected the Ten Commandments, its profound influence on the formation of American legal thought and its fundamental place in the history of law and government.”
Therefore, H.R. 107 declares, “This body hereby urges all Tennessee counties to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in their respective courthouses.”
Rep. Todd Watson, author of the resolution, explains in its text, “It is imperative that these revered tablets continue to grace our public buildings, as reminders to this generation and the next of the vital role the Ten Commandments and its Author have played in shaping our great republic.”
Coupled with the more than 90 percent of Tennessee counties that have already adopted similar resolutions acknowledging the historical significance of the Ten Commandments, H.R. 107 marks a bold fusillade in the ongoing battle over America’s Christian heritage, particularly in the arena of constitutional law.
The battle became a national issue nearly a decade ago, when an Alabama judge, Roy Moore, faced pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups to remove a monument that Moore had constructed in the Alabama Supreme Court building because it featured the Ten Commandments.
Moore, who had previously beaten an ACLU lawsuit over posting the Commandments in his courthouse as a county circuit judge, nonetheless lost a second ACLU charge and was removed from his office as the state’s chief justice over the ensuing monument controversy.
The Tennessee House’s resolution urges its counties to likewise refuse to bow to similar pressure.
The full text of the resolution is as follows:
WHEREAS, in order to preserve domestic tranquility and protect the blessings of liberty, the foundation of any government must rest upon both law and morality; and
WHEREAS, the underpinnings of our system of government are rooted in a steadfast
belief in Almighty God and the conviction that all morality, justice and unalienable rights derive from his gracious hand; and
WHEREAS, most of the political theorists embraced by our Founding Fathers, from
Locke to Blackstone, espoused the Natural Law Theory, and as John Quincy Adams explained, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God … of course presupposes the existence of a God, the moral ruler of the universe and a rule of right and wrong, or just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and of government”; and
WHEREAS, the Founders’ desire to publicly acknowledge God as the source of
America’s strength and direction is reflected in many of our founding documents and practices, from the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence to the National Motto and Thanksgiving Day celebrations; and
WHEREAS, since our nation’s birth, federal, state and local governing bodies have
continued to invoke Divine guidance and celebrate the role religion has played in American life by issuing faith-based proclamations and opening each legislative session with prayer and supplication, a practice instituted by the First United States Congress and which has continued unbroken for more than two centuries; and
WHEREAS, throughout America’s rich history, both the citizenry and their elected officials alike have deeply respected the Ten Commandments, its profound influence on the formation of American legal thought, and its fundamental place in the history of law and government as a whole; and
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the historical importance of
these sacred texts and even upheld Sunday closing laws, which originated in the Fourth
Commandment’s exhortation to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy; and
WHEREAS, countless depictions of Moses and the Ten Commandments can be found
throughout our nation’s capital as a testament to the Decalogue’s undeniable role in our
country’s legal tradition, including the magnificent displays adorning the Supreme Court
Building, the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building, the National Archives, the Department of Justice, the Ronald Reagan Building, the federal courthouse that is home to both the Court of Appeals and the District Court for the District of Columbia and the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives; and
WHEREAS, 88 Tennessee counties have already adopted resolutions
acknowledging the historical significance of the Ten Commandments and pledging to defend their right to display them; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative that these revered tablets continue to grace our public
buildings, as reminders to this generation and the next of the vital role the Ten Commandments and its Author have played in shaping our great republic; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the 107th General Assembly of the state of Tennessee, that this body hereby urges all Tennessee counties to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in their respective courthouses.
Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, is among those who celebrated the resolution’s passage:
“The Ten Commandments are part of the fabric of our country and helped shape our laws,” Staver said in a statement. “They are as much at home in a display about the foundations of law as stars and stripes are in the American flag. The Founding Fathers would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments.”
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