A related cause of judicial incompetence is the foolishness of judges who have closeted the true role of the nation’s basis for law–the non-sectarian biblical principles of the Declaration of Independence.

John Marshall wrote the landmark 1803 Marbury v. Madison opinion that inaugurated the concept of judicial review.  He served as chief justice of the Supreme Court from February 4, 1801 to July 4, 1835.  Marshall saw the importance of biblical morality in civic affairs as did the other Founding Fathers.

When writing the Marbury v. Madison opinion, Marshall said:  The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men… That the people have an original right to establish, for their future government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness, is the basis, on which the whole American fabric has been erected.  The principles, therefore, so established, are deemed fundamental.  And as the authority, from which they proceed, is supreme, and can seldom act, they are designed to be permanent.

The meaning and intent of Chief Justice Marshall’s statement–“The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men”–is clear.  “The government of laws” is based upon impartial Higher Authority moral law, “and not of men.”  The benefit is that “government of laws, and not of men” is anchored in the timeless principles revealed by scripture and proven beneficial in the American experience.  This stands in contrast to arbitrary rule and oppression that follow governments “of men,” meaning rule by privileged authoritarians.  Application of this basic understanding preserves the all-important predicate for the safe and impartial application of government power.  It is the “rule of law,” emphasized by Moses, that identifies with the desirable outcomes that prevail over circumstances and diverse cultural environments.

The rule or “government of laws” occurs when the voting sovereigns base their preferences for government on the wisdom that is available from the Creator and the self-evident boundaries of creation’s nature.  The people then elect like-minded representatives to serve as lawmakers.  In contrast, self-righteous liberals, especially law professors who are given captive audiences (not held accountable to those who pay their salaries), fool people by teaching them that God has no relevance.  “Citizens and judges must reject the wisdom of creation’s God…” then hierarchical elites slip into the vacuum as god, and society experiences the tyranny of the rule of “government of man.”

John Marshall’s Higher Authority basis for rejecting the atheistic secular government “of men” also concurs in full with the public standard of Benjamin Franklin whose call for prayer was adopted by the delegates at the Constitutional Convention.  In this regard, Henry Steele Commager, eminent historian of the twentieth century, points to the Creator-based Declaration of Independence as the source of America’s unique principles of government, and refers to America’s new political system for the vindication of God-given rights as “matchless logic” and of “permanent” rather than “transient” value.*

Unabashed belief in the providence of the universal and impartial God of creation, as a political principle, is fully American.  This was the source of the courage of the Founding Fathers when risking confrontation by the greatest military force on earth at the time.  The Higher Authority standard for morality in matters of law is indelibly written in American history:  “The Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions… And for the support of this Declaration [of Independence], with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

*Henry Steele Commager, forward to McGuffey’s Sixth Reader (New York: The American Library, 1962), xiv.

~ David Norris

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