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Establishment Flaws: SCOTUS Asserts Its Right to Self-Parody

What to make of the bizarre pair of Ten Commandment rulings handed down today? The Ten Commandments cannot be displayed framed in courthouses in Kentucky, but can be displayed outside the Taxes capitol building if sufficiently diluted with historical references or references to other religions. Apparently, the difference is one of “diversity.” The comedy here of course is the fact that the SCOTUS building and traditions are rich with Christian imagery. Moses sits in a judicial-looking chair on the outside of the building, and he is also to be found on the wall above the actual judges. Also there is the pesky, vestigial traditional invocation, “God save this honorable Court.” Not to mention the inconvenient fact that if Moses had not transmitted God’s law, the SCOTUS building would have had to have been built closer to the Potomac because they would still be pitching litigants into the river; the guilty sink, the innocent float, attorney's fees payable in oxen and dung bricks.

The SCOTUS frieze that feature Moses is illustrative. Have the majority signers not seen it? There is a tour a couple of times a day. The frieze is linear, and progresses with images of many pre-American, less perfect moments in the evolution of the law. The theme is “great lawgivers of history” and it passes across the North and South walls to portray the development of law. It begins with mere “authority” embodied by the ancients. It is no coincidence that the concepts of “equality” and “rights of man” are depicted among the Christian era figures. The frieze ends with “Liberty and Peace,” leaving no other interpretation but that the American republic, with ancient wisdom animated by Christian virtues, was the culmination of legal evolution.

So why can this blatant homage to the Christian foundations of American law be allowed to continue offending Americans in violation of the Establishment Clause? The only answer is a cynical one. It should now be apparent that nothing embarrasses the Court. The current SCOTUS liberal bloc clearly sees itself as another incarnation of the great lawgivers, and they are committed to rigidly enforced secularism is the public sphere. Unlike Hammurabi, they cannot simply decree the law and kill those who offend. Though no doubt the liberals in these two cases would prefer to order sandblasters to eradicate the friezes on their building, they know that the public still stubbornly clings to quaint Christian values. But there will be far less chance of mass uprisings if they quietly remove the Ten Commandments from far flung courthouses and federal buildings. This is another case of resetting the fringe of mainstream sentiment leftward with supreme confidence that over time lower courts and the media will coerce individuals into accepting the new agenda. It worked with abortion, and the messianic court will continue to employ this method until steps are taken to mitigate its power.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 27, 2005 11:35 AM.

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