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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The SCOTUS This Month in 1892

On the 28th of February, 1892, Justice Brewer delivered the majority opinion in the Rector of Holy Trinity Church vs. the United States.

Here's an excerpt:
But, beyond all these matters, no purpose of action against religion can be
imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious
people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the
present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to
Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from 'Ferdinand and
Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile,' etc., and recites that
'it is hoped that by God's assistance some of the continents and islands in the
ocean will be discovered,' etc. The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter
Raleigh in 1584, was from 'Elizabeth, by thegrace of God, of England, Fraunce
and Ireland, queene, defender of the faith,' etc.; and the grant authorizing him
to enact statutes of the government of the proposed colony provided that 'they be
not against the true Christian faith nowe professed in the Church of England.' The
first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I. in 1606, after reciting the
application of certain parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words:
'We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for
the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God,
hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian
Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the
true Knowledge and Worshipof God, and may in time bring the Infidels and
Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and
quiet Government; DO, by these our Letters-Patents, graciously accept of, and
agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires.'

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