The 10 Commandments as Foundation of U.S. Law

*David Barton, Wallbuilders*

According to Founder Noah Webster:

[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct
republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the
Christian religion.13

The transcendent values of Biblical natural law were the foundation of the
American republic. Consider the stability this provides: in our republic,
murder will always be a crime, for it is always a crime according to the
Word of God. however, in a democracy, if majority of the people decide that
murder is no longer a crime, murder will no longer be a crime.

America’s immutable principles of right and wrong were not based on the
rapidly fluctuating feelings and emotions of the people but rather on what
Montesquieu identified as the “principles that do not change.”14

Benjamin Rush similarly observed:
[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name
of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all
the members of the community.15

In the American republic, the “principles which did not change” and which
were “certain and universal in their operation upon all the members of the
community” were the principles of Biblical natural law. In fact, so firmly
were these principles ensconced in the American republic that early law
books taught that government was free to set its own policy only if God had
not ruled in an area. For example, Blackstone’s Commentaries explained:

To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the
Divine. . . . If any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it we
are bound to transgress that human law. . . . But, with regard to matters
that are . . . not commanded or forbidden by those superior laws such, for
instance, as exporting of wool into foreign countries; here the . . .
legislature has scope and opportunity to interpose.16

The Founders echoed that theme:

All [laws], however, may be arranged in two different classes. 1) Divine.
2) Human. . . . But it should always be remembered that this law, natural
or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine
source: it is the law of God. . . . Human law must rest its authority
ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine.17 James Wilson,
Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice

[T]he law . . . dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in
obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all
countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary
to this.18  Alexander Hamilton, Signer of the Constitution

[T]he . . . law established by the Creator . . . extends over the whole
globe, is everywhere and at all times binding upon mankind. . . . [This] is
the law of God by which he makes his way known to man and is paramount to
all human control.19 Rufus King, Signer of the Constitution

The Founders understood that Biblical values formed the basis of the
republic and that the republic would be destroyed if the people’s knowledge
of those values should ever be lost.


12. The Ten Commandments are a smaller part of the larger body of divine
law recognized and early incorporated into America’s civil documents. For
example, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut-established in 1638-39 as
the first written constitution in America and considered as the direct
predecessor of the U. S. Constitution -declared that the Governor and his
council of six elected officials would “have power to administer justice
according to the laws here established; and for want thereof according to
the rule of the word of God.”

13. Also in 1638, the Rhode Island government adopted “all those perfect
and most absolute laws of His, given us in His holy word of truth, to be
guided and judged thereby. Exod. 24. 3, 4; 2 Chron. II. 3; 2 Kings. II. 17.”

14. The following year, 1639, the New Haven Colony adopted its “Fundamental
Articles”  for the governance of that Colony, and when the question was
placed before the colonists:

Whether the Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and
government of all men in all dut[ies] which they are to perform to God and
men as well in the government of families and commonwealths as in matters
of the church, this was assented unto by all, no man dissenting as was
expressed by holding up of hands.

15. In 1672, Connecticut revised its laws and reaffirmed its civil
adherence to the laws established in the Scriptures, declaring:

The serious consideration of the necessity of the establishment of
wholesome laws for the regulating of each body politic hath inclined us
mainly in obedience unto Jehovah the Great Lawgiver, Who hath been pleased
to set down a Divine platform not only of the moral but also of judicial
laws suitable for the people of Israel; as . . . laws and constitutions
suiting our State.

16. Significantly, those same legal codes delineated their capital laws in
a separate section, and following each capital law was given the Bible
verse on which that law was based because:

*No man’s life shall be taken away . . . unless* it be by the virtue or
equity of some express law of the country warranting the same, established
by a general court and sufficiently published, or in case of the defect of
a law, in any particular case, *by the Word of God*. (emphasis added)

17. There are other similar examples, but it is a matter of historical fact
that the early colonies adopted the greater body of divine laws as the
overall basis of their civil laws. Subsequent to the adoption of that
general standard, however, the specifics of the Decalogue were then
incorporated into the civil statutes.


18. In order to avoid the alleged misunderstanding that critics claim
accompanies the reading of the Decalogue, for the purposes of this
affidavit, these Commandments as listed in the Bible in Exodus 20:3-17 and
Deuteronomy 5:7-21 (and in a shortened version in Exodus 34:14-28) will be
summarized as

1. Have no other gods.

2. Have no idols.

3. Honor God’s name.

4. Honor the Sabbath day.

5. Honor your parents.

6. Do not murder.

7. Do not commit adultery.

8. Do not steal.

9. Do not perjure yourself.

10. Do not covet.

19. The following sections will fully demonstrate that each of these
commandments was individually encoded in the civil laws, and consequently
became a part of the common law of the various colonies.


*Have no other gods.*

20. This first commandment of the Decalogue is incorporated into the very
first written code of laws enacted in America, those of the Virginia
Colony. In 1610, in a law enacted by the Colony leaders, it was declared:

[S]ince we owe our highest and supreme duty, our greatest and all our
allegiance to Him from whom all power and authority is derived, and flows
as from the first and only fountain, and being especially soldiers
impressed in this sacred cause, we must alone expect our success from Him
who is only the blesser of all good attempts, the King of kings, the
Commander of commanders, and Lord of hosts, I do strictly command and
charge all Captains and Officers of what quality or nature soever, whether
commanders in the field, or in town or towns, forts or fortresses, to have
a care that the Almighty God be duly and daily served, and that they call
upon their people to hear sermons, as that also they diligently frequent
morning and evening prayer themselves by their own example and daily life
and duties herein, encouraging others thereunto.

21. A subsequent 1641 Massachusetts legal code also incorporated the thrust
of this command of the Decalogue into its statutes. Significantly, the very
first law in that State code was based on the very first command of the
Decalogue, declaring:

1. If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god
but the Lord God, he shall be put to death. Deut. 13.6, 10, Deut. 17.2, 6,
Ex. 22.20.

22. The 1642 Connecticut law code also made this command of the Decalogue
its first civil law, declaring:
1. If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god
but the Lord God, he shall be put to death (Duet. 13.6 and 17.2, Ex. 22.20).

23. There are numerous other examples affirming that the first commandment
of the Decalogue indeed formed an historical part of American civil law.

*Have no idols.*

24. Typical of the civil laws prohibiting idolatry was a 1680 New Hampshire
idolatry law that declared:

*Idolatry*. It is enacted by ye Assembly and ye authority thereof, yet if
any person having had the knowledge of the true God openly and manifestly
have or worship any other god but the Lord God, he shall be put to death.
Ex. 22.20, Deut. 13.6 and 10.

25. Additional examples from colonial codes demonstrate that the second
commandment also was historically a part of American civil law.

*Honor God’s name.*

26. Civil laws enacted to observe this commandment were divided into two
categories: laws prohibiting blasphemy and laws prohibiting swearing and
profanity. Noah Webster, an American legislator and judge, affirms that
both of these categories of laws were derived from the third commandment of
the Decalogue:

When in obedience to the third commandment of the Decalogue you would avoid
profane swearing, you are to remember that this alone is not a full
compliance with the prohibition which [also] comprehends all irreverent
words or actions and whatever tends to cast contempt on the Supreme Being
or on His word and ordinances [i.e., blasphemy].

27. Reflecting the civil enactment of these two categories embodying the
third commandment, a 1610 Virginia law declared:

2. That no man speak impiously or maliciously against the holy and blessed
Trinity or any of the three persons . . . upon pain of death.

3. That no man blaspheme God’s holy name upon the pain of death.

28. A 1639 law of Connecticut similarly declared:

If any person shall blaspheme the name of God the Father, Son, or Holy
Ghost, with direct, express, presumptuous or high-handed blasphemy, or
shall curse in the like manner, he shall be put to death. Lev. 24.15, 16.

29. Similar laws can be found in Massachusetts in 1641, Connecticut in
1642, New Hampshire in 1680, Pennsylvania in 1682, 1700, and 1741, South
Carolina in 1695, North Carolina in 1741, etc. Additionally, prominent
Framers also enforced the Decalogue’s third command.

30. For example, Commander-in-Chief George Washington issued numerous
military orders during the American Revolution that first prohibited
swearing and then ordered an attendance on Divine worship, thus relating
the prohibition against profanity to a religious duty. Typical of these
orders, on July 4, 1775, Washington declared:

The General most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those
articles of war established for the government of the army which forbid
profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness; and in like manner requires and
expects of all officers and soldiers not engaged on actual duty, a punctual
attendance on Divine Service to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the
means used for our safety and defense.

31. Washington began issuing such orders to his troops as early as 1756
during the French and Indian War, and continued the practice throughout the
American Revolution, issuing similar orders in 1776, 1777, 1778, etc.

32. This civil prohibition against blasphemy and profanity drawn from the
Decalogue continued well beyond the Founding Era. It subsequently appeared
in the 1784 laws in Connecticut, the 1791 laws of New Hampshire, the 1791
laws of Vermont, the 1792 laws of Virginia, the 1794 laws of Pennsylvania,
the 1821 laws of Maine, the 1834 laws of Tennessee, the 1835 laws of
Massachusetts, the 1836 laws of New York, etc.

33. Judge Zephaniah Swift, author in 1796 of the first legal text published
in America, explained why civil authorities enforced the Decalogue
prohibition against blasphemy and profane swearing:

Crimes of this description are not punishable by the civil arm merely
because they are against religion. Bold and presumptuous must he be who
would attempt to wrest the thunder of heaven from the hand of God and
direct the bolts of vengeance where to fall. The Supreme Deity is capable
of maintaining the dignity of His moral government and avenging the
violations of His holy laws. His omniscient mind estimates every act by the
standard of perfect truth and His impartial justice inflicts punishments
that are accurately proportioned to the crimes. But short-sighted mortals
cannot search the heart and punish according to the intent. They can only
judge by overt acts and punish them as they respect the peace and happiness
of civil society. This is the rule to estimate all crimes against civil law
and is the standard of all human punishments. It is on this ground only
that civil tribunals are authorized to punish offences against religion.

34. In 1824, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (in a decision subsequently
invoked authoritatively and endorsed by the U. S. Supreme Court )
reaffirmed that the civil laws against blasphemy were derived from divine

The true principles of natural religion are part of the common law; the
essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law; so
that a person vilifying, subverting or ridiculing them may be prosecuted at
common law.

The court then noted that its State’s laws against blasphemy had been drawn
up by James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and original Justice on
the U. S. Supreme Court:

The late Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor
of Law in the College in Philadelphia, was appointed in 1791, unanimously
by the House of Representatives of this State to “revise and digest the
laws of this commonwealth. . . . ”  He had just risen from his seat in the
Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, and of this
State; and it is well known that for our present form of government we are
greatly indebted to his exertions and influence. With his fresh
recollection of both constitutions, in his course of Lectures (3d vol. of
his works, 112), he states that profaneness and blasphemy are offences
punishable by fine and imprisonment, and that Christianity is part of the
common law. It is vain to object that the law is obsolete; this is not so;
it has seldom been called into operation because this, like some other
offences, has been rare. It has been retained in our recollection of laws
now in force, made by the direction of the legislature, and it has not been
a dead letter.

35. The Decalogue’s influence on profanity and blasphemy laws was
reaffirmed by subsequent courts, such as the 1921 Supreme Court of Maine,
the 1944 Supreme Court of Florida, and others.

36. Many additional sources may be cited, but it is clear that the civil
laws against both profanity and blasphemy-many of which are still in force
today-were originally derived from the divine law and the Ten Commandments.
These examples unquestionably demonstrate that the third commandment of the
Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.


83. The Colonial, Revolutionary, and Federalist Era laws, as well as
contemporary court decisions, provide two authoritative voices establishing
that the Decalogue formed the historical basis for civil laws and
jurisprudence in America. As a third authoritative voice, the Framers
themselves endorsed those commandments, both specifically and generally.

84. In addition to the approbation already given throughout this affidavit
by John Adams, John Jay, Noah Webster, *et. al,* there are many other
specific declarations, including that of William Findley, a soldier in the
Revolution and a U. S. Congressman, who declared:

[I]t pleased God to deliver on Mount Sinai a compendium of His holy law and
to write it with His own hand on durable tables of stone. This law, which
is commonly called the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, . . . is immutable
and universally obligatory. . . . [and] was incorporated in the judicial

85. Additionally, John Quincy Adams, who bore arms during the Revolution,
served under four Presidents and became a President, and who was nominated
(but declined) a position on the U. S. Supreme Court under President
Madison, similarly declared:

The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and
religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal
application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of
which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of
laws. . . . Vain, indeed, would be the search among the writings of profane
antiquity . . . to find so broad, so complete and so solid a basis for
morality as this Decalogue lays down.

86. However, in addition to their specific references to the Decalogue, the
Framers also used other terms to describe that code of laws-terms such as
the “moral law.”  For example, John Witherspoon, President of Princeton and
signer of the Declaration, declared:

[T]he Ten Commandments . . . are the sum of the moral law.

87. Thomas Jefferson agreed, declaring that “the moral law”  is that law
“to which man has been subjected by his creator.”

88. The Framers also used a third descriptive term synonymous with the
Decalogue and the moral law: the natural law. As Chief Justice John Jay, an
author of the *Federalist Papers*, explained:

The moral, or natural law, was given by the sovereign of the universe to
all mankind.

89. The Framers’ understanding of natural law must not be confused with the
secular view of natural law embraced in Europe at that time. The American
view of natural law was not secular-a fact made exceptionally clear by
Justice James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and the father of the
first organized legal training in America. As Wilson explained:

As promulgated by reason and the moral sense, it has been called natural;
as promulgated by the Holy Scriptures, it has been called revealed law. As
addressed to men, it has been denominated the law of nature; as addressed
to political societies, it has been denominated the law of nations. But it
should always be remembered that this law, natural or revealed, made for
men or for nations, flows from the same divine source; it is the law of
God. . . . What we do, indeed, must be founded on what He has done; and the
deficiencies of our laws must be supplied by the perfections of His. Human
law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which
is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are
twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences
run into each other. The divine law as discovered by reason and moral sense
forms an essential part of both. The moral precepts delivered in the sacred
oracles form part of the law of nature, are of the same origin and of the
same obligation, operating universally and perpetually.

90. Notice additional evidence that the Framers considered “natural
law” as a synonym for divine law:

In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of
nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator. *Samuel Adams,
Father of the American Revolution, Signer of the Declaration*

[T]he laws of nature . . . of course presupposes the existence of a God,
the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and
unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and
government. *John Quincy Adams*

The law of nature, “which, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God
Himself, is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding
over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are
of any validity, if contrary to this.”  *Alexander Hamilton, Signer of the

The “law of nature”  is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural
relations of human beings established by the Creator and existing prior to
any positive precept. . . . [These] have been established by the Creator,
and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture,
“ordinances of heaven.”  *Noah Webster, Judge and Legislator*

The law of nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God Himself,
is of course superior to and the foundation of all other laws. . . . No
human laws are of any validity if they are contrary to it; and such of them
as are of any validity, derive all their force and all their authority,
mediately or immediately, from their original. *William Findley,
Revolutionary Soldier, Member of Congress*

[The] law established by the Creator, which has existed from the beginning,
extends over the whole globe, is everywhere and at all times binding upon
mankind. . . . [This] is the law of God by which He makes His way known to
man and is paramount to all human control. *Rufus King, Signer of the
Constitution, Framer of the Bill of Right*

God . . . is the promulgator as well as the author of natural law. *James
Wilson, Signer of the Declaration and the Constitution, Original Justice on
the U. S. Supreme Court*

The transcendent excellence and boundless power of the Supreme Deity . . .
[has] impressed upon them those general and immutable laws that will
regulate their operation through the endless ages of eternity. . . . These
general laws . . . are denominated the laws of nature. *Zephaniah Swift,
Author of America’s First Legal Text*

91. The Framers clearly considered that the natural law and the moral law,
of which the Decalogue was a major component, provided the basis for our
civil laws and jurisprudence.

92. However, even if it should be argued that the Decalogue is nothing more
than the embodiment of a religious rather than a secular code, even this,
in the views of the Framers, would be insufficient grounds for its
exclusion from the public arena. For example, Justice William Paterson, a
signer of the Constitution placed on the Supreme Court by President George
Washington, declared:

Religion and morality . . . [are] necessary to good government, good order,
and good laws.
93. Justice Joseph Story, later appointed to the Supreme Court by President
James Madison, similarly declared:

I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of *civil* society.
One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that
Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . . There never has been a
period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its
foundations. (emphasis added)

94. John Adams, an accomplished attorney and an author of a commentary on
the Constitution of the United States, similarly declared:

The study and practice of law . . . does not dissolve the obligations of
morality or religion.

95. Dewitt Clinton, the Framer who introduced the 12th Amendment, also

The laws which regulate our conduct are the laws of man and the laws of
God. . . . The sanctions of the Divine law . . . cover the whole area of
human action.

96. Perhaps the best reflection of the collective belief of the Framers
that religion was not to be excluded from civil society is enactment of the
Northwest Ordinance, one of the four organic laws of the United States.
That law, passed in 1789 by the same Congress that framed the Bill of
Rights, declared:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and
the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever
be encouraged.

97. This federal law declares that “religion, morality, and knowledge”  are
*necessary *for “good government.”  Expounding on the reasoning behind this
belief, signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon, who served on over 100
committees while in Congress, declared:

[T]o promote true religion is the best and most effectual way of making a
virtuous and regular people. Love to God and love to man is the substance
of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do.

98. However, the Decalogue clearly is more than just a religious code.
It-in its entirety-provides the base for much of America’s common law. As
the Supreme Court of North Carolina declared in 1917:

Our laws are founded upon the Decalogue, not that every case can be exactly
decided according to what is there enjoined, but we can never safely depart
from this short, but great, declaration of moral principles, without
founding the law upon the sand instead of upon the eternal rock of justice
and equity.

99. In 1950, the Florida Supreme Court similarly declared:

A people unschooled about the sovereignty of God, the Ten Commandments, and
the ethics of Jesus, could never have evolved the Bill of Rights, the
Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. There is not one
solitary fundamental principle of our democratic policy that did not stem
directly from the basic moral concepts as embodied in the Decalogue . . .


100. Significantly, Americans seem to recognize the important contributions made to our society by the Decalogue. Consequently, there is a centuries old American propensity to honor both the Ten Commandments and Moses, the deliverer of the Decalogue.

101. For example, in 1776 immediately following America’s separation from
Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were placed on a
committee to design a seal for the new United States. Both of them
separately proposed featuring Moses prominently in the symbol of the new
nation. Franklin proposed “Moses lifting his wand and dividing the Red
Sea” while Jefferson proposed “the children of Israel in the
wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.”

102. A further indication of this American proclivity to honor Moses, the
deliverer of the Ten Commandments, is seen in the U. S. Capitol. Adorning
the top of the walls around the House Chamber are the side-view profile
reliefs of 23 great lawgivers, including Hammurabi, Justinian, John Locke,
Thomas Jefferson, William Blackstone, Hugo Grotius, George Mason, and 16
others. Significantly, there is only one relief of the 23 that is full
faced rather than in profile, and that one relief is placed where it looks
directly down onto the House Speaker’s rostrum, symbolically overseeing the
proceedings of the lawmakers. That relief is of Moses.

103. Not only Moses but also depictions of the Ten Commandments adorn several of the more important government buildings in the nation’s capitol.  For example, every visitor that enters the National Archives to view the
original Constitution and Declaration of Independence (and other official  documents of American government) must first pass by the Ten Commandments embedded in the entryway to the Archives. Additionally, in the U. S. Supreme Court are displayed two depictions of the Ten Commandments. One is on the entry into the Chamber, where, engraved on the lower half of the two large oak doors, are the Ten Commandments. The other display of the commandments is in the Chamber itself on a marble frieze carved above the Justices’ heads. As Chief Justice Warren Burger noted in *Lynch v. Donnelly*
The very chamber in which oral arguments on this case were heard is decorated with a notable and permanent-not seasonal-symbol of religion: Moses with the Ten Commandments.

104. Other prominent buildings where large displays of the Ten Commandments may be viewed include the Texas State Capitol, the chambers of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and scores of other legislatures, courthouses, and public buildings across America. In fact, the Ten Commandments are more easily found in America’s government buildings than in her religious buildings, thus demonstrating the understanding by generations of Americans from coast to coast that the Ten Commandments formed the basis of America’s civil laws.


105. Historical evidence, drawn from civil law codes, judicial decisions,
and declarations of great American lawgivers, affirms and reaffirms that
the entire Decalogue has made a seminal contribution to the early common
law and still continues today to make a significant contribution to the
modern common law.

106. The fact that some may not agree with all of the commandments of the
Decalogue does not mean it should be prohibited from display any more than
does the fact that not everyone agrees with all of the protections in the
Bill of Rights requires that the Bill of Rights should not be displayed-or
that because not everyone agrees with what the American flag represents
requires the flag should not be displayed. Even though some may wish that
the American ensign was the Stars & Bars rather than the Stars & Stripes,
the reality is otherwise-and the reality is also that all ten of the
commandments in the Decalogue had a unique, distinct, and significant
impact on both American law and jurisprudence.

107. To prohibit the display of the Decalogue simply because the first four
commandments are more religious in nature than are the other six is like
permitting the display of George Washington’s “Farewell Address”  or
Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death”  speech or the “Mayflower Compact”  only
if each document is displayed without its religious portions. In a display
of any of the aforementioned works, it is not the advocation of religion
that is occurring but rather the recognition of a significant historical
contribution made to America that also happens to include religion.

108. Aside from the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights,
it is difficult to argue that there is any single work that has had a
greater or more far-reaching impact on four centuries of American life,
law, and culture than the Decalogue. For this reason alone, the Decalogue
merits display.


Under penalty of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing; that
the facts alleged are true, to the best of my knowledge and belief.





Sir John Fortescue
<>stressed “the
supreme importance of the law of God and of nature” in works
that “profoundly influenced the course of legal development in the
following centuries.”[51] The legal scholar Ellis
Sandoz<>has noted that “the
historically ancient and the ontologically higher
law–eternal, divine, natural–are woven together to compose a single
harmonious texture in Fortescue’s account of English law.”[52] As the legal
historian Norman Doe explains: “Fortescue follows the general pattern set
by Aquinas. The objective of every legislator is to dispose people to
virtue. It is by means of law that this is accomplished. Fortescue’s
definition of law (also found in
Accursius<>and Bracton), after
all, was ‘a sacred sanction commanding what is virtuous
[*honesta*] and forbidding the contrary.'”[53] Fortescue cited Leonardo
Bruni <; for his statement that
“virtue alone produces happiness.”[54]

Christopher St. Germain’s *Doctor and Student* was a classic of English
jurisprudence,[55] and it was thoroughly annotated by Thomas
.[56] St. Germain informs his readers that English lawyers generally don’t
use the phrase “law of nature,” but rather use “reason” as the preferred
synonym.[57][58] Norman Doe notes that St. Germain’s view “is essentially
Thomist,” quoting Thomas Aquinas’s definition of law as “an ordinance of
reason made for the common good by him who has charge of the community, and

Sir Edward Coke was the preeminent jurist of his time.[60] Coke’s
preeminence extended across the ocean: “For the American revolutionary
leaders, ‘law’ meant Sir Edward Coke’s custom and right reason.”[61]
[62]Coke defined law as “perfect reason, which commands those things
that are
proper and necessary and which prohibits contrary things.”[63] For Coke,
human nature determined the purpose of law; and law was superior to any one
man’s reason or will.[64] Coke’s discussion of natural law appears in his
report of *Calvin’s Case* (1608): “The law of nature is that which God at
the time of creation of the nature of man infused into his heart, for his
preservation and direction.” In this case the judges found that “the
ligeance or faith of the subject is due unto the King by the law of nature:
secondly, that the law of nature is part of the law of England: thirdly,
that the law of nature was before any judicial or municipal law: fourthly,
that the law of nature is immutable.” To support these findings, the
assembled judges (as reported by Coke, who was one of them) cited as
authorities Aristotle <;,
and the Apostle Paul <;; as well
as Bracton <;,
and St. Germain <;.[65]

As early as the thirteenth century, it was held that “the law of
nature…is the ground of all laws”[66] and by the Chancellor and Judges
that “it is required by the law of nature that every person, before he can
be punish’d, ought to be present; and if absent by contumacy, he ought to
be summoned and make default.”.[67][68] Further, in 1824, we find it held
that “proceedings in our Courts are founded upon the law of England, and
that law is again founded upon the law of nature and the revealed law of
God. If the right sought to be enforced is inconsistent with either of
these, the English municipal courts cannot recognize it.”[69]


On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 1:08 AM,

> I got a good taste of what you mean when you say that a generation now
> exists that doesn’t recognize natural law (nor moral law).  Here’s what I
> read yesterday from in response to my latest essay
> titled: “Limitless and Untouchable Citizenship”
> based on the Natural Law principle of natural group membership.  I must
> have really hit a nerve with my unique natural law perspective which
> demolishes any legitimacy to Obama’s presidency.  There’s no counter to the
> facts and logic so the venom takes another tack.
>   “Adrien Nash: Meaningless psychobabble;
> I’m sorry, but you genuinely don’t have the first clue about the law.  I
> don’t know why you think you are so special that you just get to make up a
> set rules, and expect the rest of the country to care two bits about what
> “you think.”
> Your musing are utterly meaningless.  They have no basis in the law, and
> they are flat out, 100% wrong, meaningless, and we are are a little dumber
> for having to been subjected to it.  There is no “Natural Law” as you
> purport to pull out of the dark recesses of your back side.  There are two
> sources of the law.  Judge made case law, and statutory law made by the
> legislature.  As you can see, you are in neither of those categories.  You
> don’t even qualify as a legal scholar whose published writings (which
> obviously your festering t*rd of a blog does not constitute as published
> legal writing), which would be considered persuasive to a court.  I
> generally try not to be this blunt, but I cannot for the life of me
> understand, how a person thinks they can dream up a fanciful diatribe about
> a legal term of art with centuries of history behind it, and think it would
> somehow constitute a legally binding definition?  Seriously, are you that
> narcissistic?”
>  Other complainers even pulled out the big gun of “racist!”
>  So clearly, unalienable rights do not exist, including the right to life,
> because they would have to be based on the premise of their establishment
> by a Supreme Being, and that premise must be shunned completely.  Hence the
> roots and foundation of the nation, it’s patriotic past and patriotic songs
> all must be discarded.  Government is now God.

*Relevant Endnotes:*

13. Noah Webster, *History of the United States* (New Haven: Durrie & Peck,
1832), p. 6.

14. George Bancroft, *History of the United States from the Discovery of
the American Continent* (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1859), Vol. V, p. 24;
see Baron Charles Secondat de Montesquieu, *Spirit of the
Laws*(Philadelphia: Isaiah Thomas, 1802), Vol. I, pp. 17-23, and ad

15. Rush, *Letters*, Vol. I, p. 454, to David Ramsay, March or April 1788.

16. William Blackstone, *Commentaries on the Laws of
England*(Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771), Vol. I, pp. 42-43.

17. James Wilson, *The Works of the Honorable James Wilson*, Bird Wilson,
editor (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 103-105, “Of the
General Principles of Law and Obligation.”

18. Alexander Hamilton, *The Papers of Alexander Hamilton*, Harold C.
Syrett, editor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), Vol. I, p. 87,
February 23, 1775, quoting William Blackstone, *Commentaries on the Laws of
England* (Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771), Vol. I, p. 41.

19. Rufus King, *The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King*, Charles R.
King, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900), Vol. VI, p. 276, to C.
Gore on February 17, 1820.

20. John Adams, *The Papers of John Adams*, Robert J. Taylor, editor
(Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. I, p. 83, from “An Essay on Man’s
Lust for Power, with the Author’s Comment in 1807,” written on August 29,
1763, but first published by John Adams in 1807.

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