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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Feb. 13, 2004 – Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) join with former Chief Justice Roy S. Moore in introducing the Constitution Restoration Act 2004 to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court and all lower federal courts to that jurisdiction permitted them by the Constitution of the United States.
Q. What is the purpose of this bill?
A. The purpose of the CRA is to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court and all lower federal courts to that jurisdiction permitted them by the Constitution of the United States. The acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, and government is contained within the Declaration of Independence which is cited as the “organic law” of our Country by United States Code Annotated. The constitution of every state of the Union acknowledges God and His sovereignty, as do three branches of the federal government. The acknowledgment of God is not a legitimate subject of review by federal courts. The CRA also protects and preserves the Constitution of the United States by restricting federal courts from recognizing the laws of foreign jurisdictions and international law as the supreme law of our land.
Q. Does this bill reverse Supreme Court precedent?
A. To the extent that any decision of the United States Supreme Court or that of any federal district court made prior to or after the effective date of the Act prohibits the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government, such precedent would not be binding on state courts.
Q. Does this bill intrude into the constitutional powers of the federal judiciary?
A. No. Use by Congress of Article III regulation of the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts is provided by the Constitution as a check on the Judicial Branch when it exceeds its jurisdiction. When federal courts prohibit the acknowledgment of God they deny the very source of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness which our founding fathers specifically recognized in the Declaration of Independence as unalienable rights given by God. To prohibit a state official from recognizing God is a violation of the Tenth Amendment as well as the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. If Congress cannot make a law restricting states from the acknowledgment of God under the First Amendment, how can the Supreme Court enforce a law which Congress cannot make? The CRA would restore the balance of power among the various branches of government and restore the fundamental precepts upon which our Constitution and government is based.
Q. Does the CRA promote an establishment of religion?
A. No. The right to acknowledge God is not and never has been the establishment of religion. According to the United States Congress, in the 1954 legislation placing “Under God” in the Pledge: “A distinction must be made between the existence of religion as an institution and a belief in the sovereignty of God.” The actions of state and federal officials from the adoption and implementation of the First Amendment illustrate that the acknowledgment of God was never intended to be prohibited by the First Amendment. Even the First Congress (which agreed on the words of the First Amendment) on September 25, 1789, adopted a resolution on that very day asking President Washington to declare a day of thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God for the peaceful manner in which the Constitution was formed. From that time to the present, both state and federal officials have continuously acknowledged God in oaths, prayers, and official ceremonies. Eight days after Congress requested the president to declare a day of thanksgiving and prayer, President Washington did exactly that on October 3, 1789, in his first Presidential Proclamation, stating, “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor . . ..”
Q. Does the CRA deny other faiths in America?
A. No. The freedom of conscience and right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience are the very objects guaranteed by the First Amendment. Justice Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution regarding the First Amendment stated: “The rights of conscience are indeed beyond the reach of human power, they are given by God and cannot be encroached upon by any human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural as well as of revealed religion.”
Q. What are the practical effects of CRA on pending legislation?
A. This bill would cover all present bills before Congress regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, Ten Commandments, National Motto “In God We Trust,” and all other acknowledgments of God. Furthermore, this bill would preserve freedom of conscience and equal treatment under law guaranteed by the Constitution by restricting federal intrusion into our right to acknowledge God. People are never to be judged on their thoughts in a court of law and the right to believe as one chooses is a right given by God, not by government.
Q. Does the CRA affect the religious test provisions of Article VI?
A. No. The right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of one’s conscience should never be used as a test or standard for people to seek or hold public office.
Q. What would prevent the United States Supreme Court from declaring the CRA unconstitutional?
A. The authority of Congress under Article III is specifically enumerated and cannot be questioned by another branch of government. Should the Supreme Court resort to the law of foreign nations or the European Court of Human Rights for authority, impeachment and removal from office are appropriate remedies. Conflict between the various branches of government is not without historic precedent. The control of funding and power of impeachment are traditional controls over the Judiciary by Congress. Separation of powers is a critical part of our Constitution; nevertheless, something more egregious happens when a branch of government intrudes its powers into the freedom of conscience to acknowledge God secured by the First Amendment. James Madison spoke of such an intrusion when he stated in the Memorial and Remonstrance: “The preservation of a free government requires not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power may be invariably maintained, but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people. The rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment exceed the commission from which they derive their authority and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them and are slaves.” Thomas Jefferson also spoke of such an intrusion in his Bill for Religious Freedom when he stated: “That to suffer the Civil Magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and restrain the profession or propagation of opinions on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty.” This portion of Jefferson’s Bill for religious freedom was, in fact, quoted by the United States Supreme Court in 1878 in United States v. Reynolds as a violation of what properly belonged to the church and not the state.
Q. What is the strength of the CRA?
A. The CRA will be supported by all those who oppose judicial tyranny as well as all those who respect individual rights and the right of every state to acknowledge God. This is not restricted to a political party or persuasion.
Q. Why is the English common law not excluded from consideration of federal courts in interpreting and applying the Constitution?
A. The common law is incorporated by reference into the United States Constitution, in the 7th Amendment and remains a foundation of American jurisprudence and an integral part of the organic law of the land. Our American common law is largely derived from the more than millennia-long tradition of English common law and constitutionalism, including the Magna Carta.
Q. What is the meaning of “acknowledgment of God” in the CRA?
A. The public recognition of God by state and federal authorities exists today in oaths, mottos , documents, prayers, monuments, and various other medium. Even in our “organic law,” the Declaration of Independence, according to the United States Code Annotated, God is the very source of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and government authority. The CRA would preserve and restore the Godly basis of our law and government.
Q. What does the right to acknowledge God have to do with foreign law?
A. The acknowledgment of God and absolute standards distinguishes us from other nations and political systems. The source of American law cannot be replaced by laws of foreign jurisdictions which base their authority on secular principles.
Q. How does the CRA affect each and every individual?
A. In 1952, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Zorach v. Clauson that, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a belief in a Supreme Being.” During the last fifty years, federal courts have excluded prayers in public schools, Ten Commandments in public buildings, manger scenes at Christmas, and even the Pledge of Allegiance in school classrooms. Even as late as 1984, the United States Supreme Court struck down a state statute in Alabama which allowed a moment of silence “or voluntary prayer.” These examples have one thing in common: “the acknowledgment of God.” The CRA would restore our right to acknowledge God and stop the ACLU and other liberal groups from bringing frivolous suits simply because they are “offended” because there is a God and a higher law. Our children would be free to pray before eating lunch in their schools, public officials would be free to acknowledge the God upon Whom they take their oath, and the moral basis of our law regarding marriage could not be altered by judicial activism.