Please keep these quotes in mind as you read below.
"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 the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."
James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence
"We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."
We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution)"“At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.” Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, and A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States
"[T]he government may not favor one religion over another, or religion over irreligion, religious choice being the prerogative of individuals under the Free Excersise Clause." Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School Dist. v. Grumet 512 U.S. 687, 703 (1994)
"You have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation."
Who was Blackstone?
William Blackstone was the 18th Century English legal scholar whose writings were based on Judeo-Christian principles. The Ten Commandments were at the center of Blackstone's philosophy, and he taught that man is created by God and granted fundamental rights by God. He knew that man’s law must be based on God’s law.
Blackstone's lectures were published in England between 1765 and 1769. An American edition was published in Philadelphia between 1771-72. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of Blackstone's Commentaries and he was a person who had a huge influence on the thinking of our founding fathers. Blackstone’s writings, called Commentaries on the Laws of England, was the basis to the U. S. Constitution, and were the basic textbook of America’s early lawyers.
Blackstone’s influence on both English and American law was largely recognized until well into the Twentieth Century, when the so called progressive/humanist enlightenment started marching through America's government and education institutions. It was only in the mid-Twentieth Century that American law, being re-written by the U. S. Supreme Court, refused to acknowledge Blackstone's writings. The modern court and progressive government had no need for a legal authority which acknowledged higher Law from God, because they wanted to push the idea that man is the giver of liberties and that natural and moral law is evolving. If people began to believe that man was his own authority, and that liberties came from government, there would no longer be any need for God. We could become our own salvation through federal government.
United States Supreme Court Justice John Marshall and other early American justices built the American legal system which was based on Blackstone's Commentaries. In fact, the most important of Marshall’s decisions, he cited Blackstone several times to promote the concept of Constitutional supremacy over the power of judges. Our early SCOTUS recognized the importance of the Judeo Christian foundation. Appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, the author of the First Amendment to the Constitution, Justice Joseph Story commented on this basis,"The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government."
Back to Blackwell
Here are the basic principals of his Commentaries. As you read the summery below, keep in mind the quotes above and the extent to which American law has done away with much if not most of what Blackstone and our Founders believed.
Law as the order of the universe. “Thus when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. When he put the matter into motion, He established certain laws of motion, to which all movable bodies must conform . . . .”
Law as a rule of human action. “. . . the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and free will, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behavior.”
Law of nature. “These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator Himself in all His dispensations conforms; and which He has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions.”
Revealed law. “The doctrines . . . delivered [by an immediate and direct revelation] we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures . . . . Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”
Law of nations. [A]s it is impossible for the whole race of mankind to be united in one great society, they must necessarily divide into many . . . . [the regulation of their interaction] is the law of nations . . . [it] depends entirely upon the rules of natural law, or upon mutual compacts, treaties, leagues, and agreements . . . .”
Municipal law. “[This is] a rule of civil conduct, prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong. But no human authority can act without limits.”
There are three primary personal rights:
Personal security. The right …consists in a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health, and his reputation.
Personal liberty. This personal liberty consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or removing one’s person to whatsoever place one’s own inclination may direct; without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law.
Right of private property: law of the land. [This right] consists in the free use, enjoyment, and disposal [by man] of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land.
You can see by Blackstone's philosophies why the modern progressive humanists would want to cut any mention of his commentaries from our courts and education. Clearly his views on personal properties, personal liberty and societal laws based on revealed and natural law given by our creator has no place in a society where man, not God is the master and giver of all things.
As for the man, William Blackstone, in 1761 he was appointed king’s councilor, elected to the house of commons, where he was a hard line Tory. He voted against, much of the time, interests important to the colonies, including the Stamp Tax. In 1770, he was knighted and appointed as a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. Little did he know how much of an influence he had on those men who brought about the American Revolution.
In the next article, we'll learn about the men behind the signatures of The Declaration of Independence.
Until then, You can read Blackstone's Commentaries here, at the Avalon Project at Yale University.