As of Tuesday, March 24, 2015
My cousin, Sen. Nuxoll, boycotted a Senate invocation by a non-Christian and justified the decision on her false premise: “the fact that our entire legal system was based on the 10 Commandments.” As a lawmaker, the Senator should strive to be correct before babbling on about the derivation of the laws that went before her.
Arguments abound on all sides of that claim, but our U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that “our entire legal system” was so based. The answer is not the exclusivity championed by the Senator. After three years of law school, two bar exams, and 45 years of practicing law, I have yet to come across a Supreme Court opinion where the justices held that our entire legal system was based on the Jewish 10 Commandments handed over to Moses to give to God’s chosen few, the Israelites. (Martin Luther, an avowed anti-Semite and the father of the Protestant movement was adamant in his insistence that Christians were not bound by the Jewish 10 Commandments), and that attitude continued in the minds of many colonists well before we adopted the British system of laws. “Anti-Catholic sentiment landed in the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies along with the first settlers. Catholics were banned from both colonies and in 1647, Massachusetts enacted a law threatening death to Catholic clergymen.” How’s that for unanimity of religious thinking, Ms. Nuxoll?
Justice Rehnquist, arguably the most oft cited expert on American Jurisprudence, said this concerning the exclusivity of the 10 Commandments in the development of U.S. law: “Nearly everything in our culture worth transmitting, everything which gives meaning to life, is saturated with religious influences, derived from paganism, Judaism, Christianity — both Catholic and Protestant — and other faiths accepted by a large part of the world’s peoples.”
Yes, even paganism was a factor, and to argue otherwise would demonstrate a lack of both understanding and intellectual honesty.
Wayne J. Wimer