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Founder, WallBuilders, a national, pro-family organization that distributes historical, legal, and statistical information

Speaker/Consultant to state and federal legislators

B.A., Religious Education, ORU

P.O. Box 397
Aledo, TX 76008-0397

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David Barton: The History of the Supreme Court

The 700 Club

CBN.comThe Founding Fathers of this nation laid out their elaborate plans for the city of Washington and made no provision for the Supreme Court to have a separate building. As intended by the Founders, the Court met inside the Capitol building for 135 years, first bouncing around from room to room and then finally residing in the vacated Senate chambers. The Founders intended that the Court should not have a major role in shaping the policy of our nation. In the first ten years of its existence, the entire Court term lasted less than two weeks a year; and for the next fifty years, the Court met only six to eight weeks a year.

Contrary to current policy, early sessions of the Supreme Court never saw the practice of public prayer as contrary to the intent of the Constitution. Records show that the Court commenced only after a minister had come into the Courtroom to pray for the Court, jurors, and their deliberations. Communion was often served before the session began, and records even show that early judges would offer a salvation message to those who were sentenced to die. Lawyers would sometimes pray for Justices as part of their arguments in Supreme Court cases. Surpreme Court decisions were rendered by the Justices in defence of retaining the Bible as part of official public life.

Early Justices lived lives that exemplified their beliefs. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, also served as the President of the American Bible Society. Through his efforts, thousands of Bibles were printed and distributed across America. Other Justices served as officers and encouraged Christianity in the government and public arena. The Founding Fathers had godly requirements for those who served in public office. Noah Webster based those qualifications on Exodus 18:21, to "rule in the fear of God." Chief Justice John Jay declared, "It is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christian for their rulers."

Branching Out

In 1935 the Supreme Court began to branch out, extending its powers by constructing a separate building. After moving into the new building, they extended the length of the Court’s term from only a few weeks per year to nine months per year. By rendering more and more decisions, they drew more power to themselves.

Americans quickly forgot their founding principles. The Court ignored the American government articulated by George Washington who declared that "the fundamental principle of our Constitution enjoins that the will of the majority shall prevail." By 1947 the Everson v. Board of Education case, which dealt with the First Amendment and the wall of separation of church and state, began to pave the way for the intrusion of the state into religious expressions. In the early '60s, the Earl Warren Court, with little judicial experience on the part of any but one of its Justices, began to make decisions without regard to historical practices. In 1962 the Court took prayer out of public schools; in 1963 they took the Bible out of classrooms; in 1980 they ended the teaching of creation in schools. The court continues to refuse to intervene in important rulings that differ with an overwhelming majority of Americans. For example, 70 percent of Americans approve the posting of the Ten Commandments in the classrooms and courts, and 78 percent support volunteer school prayer, yet the courts refuse to reconsider these cases.

However, despite these and other current rulings, many reminders of our godly heritage are etched in wood and stone throughout the building. Inside are several carvings of the Ten Commandments, including an etching on the upper right side of the Justices’ seats that shows Moses displaying these sacred laws. When seated, the Justices face a marble relief called "The Struggle Between Good and Evil with Good Prevailing."

David says now is a critical time to persevere in prayer for our courts to return to the godly system on which they were founded.

Related Resources:

The Spirit Behind '76

Why Washington is "The Father of our Country"

Author Looks at U.S. History and Asks: 'What If?'

Cape Henry, A Christian Nation

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