6.Thou shalt not kill
This one is obviously constitutional, and is a part of our legal system. But it's also found in EVERY legal system, even those that have nothing to do with the bible or Christianity.>
"The opinion that human reason left without the constant control of Divine laws and commands will . . . give duration to a popular government is as chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac. . . . Where will you find any code of laws among civilized men in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass."
A 1932 Kentucky Appeals Court:"The rights of society as well as those of appellant are involved and are also to be protected, and to that end all forms of governments following the promulgation of Moses at Mt. Sinai has required of each and every one of its citizens that "Thou shalt not murder." If that law is violated, the one guilty of it has no right to demand more than a fair trial, and if, as a result thereof, the severest punishment for the crime is visited upon him, he has no one to blame but himself."
There are yet many more declarations by our people affirming the sixth commandment into our laws.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
Another one that is a good idea, but not constitutional if legally enforced. Adultery is a moral wrong, but it's a private matter between individuals.>
Vermont Laws of 1787 "Whereas the violation of the marriage covenant is contrary to the command of God and destructive to the peace of families: be it therefore enacted by the general assembly of the State of Vermont that if any man be found in bed with another man's wife, or woman with another's husband, . . . &c
For example, in 1898, the highest criminal court in Texas declared that its State laws on adultery were derived from the Decalogue: The accused would insist upon the defense that the female consented. The state would reply that she could not consent. Why? Because the law prohibits, with a penalty, the completed act. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is our law as well as the law of the Bible.
8. Thou shalt not steal
This is the second one that is obviously constitutional, but also found in every legal system regardless of the religious system that may have initially spawned it. A universal imperative that would be part of the law even if the bible never existed.>
The laws regarding theft that indicate their reliance on divine law and the Decalogue are far too numerous even to begin listing. Perhaps the simplest summation is given by Chancellor James Kent, who is considered, along with Justice Joseph Story, as one of the two "Fathers of American Jurisprudence." In his classic 1826 Commentaries on American Law, Kent confirmed that the prohibitions against theft were found in divine law:To overturn justice by plundering others tended to destroy civil society, to violate the law of nature, and the institutions of Heaven.
In 1951, the Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged the Decalogue as the basis for the unchanging civil laws against theft: In the Ten Commandments, the basic law of all Christian countries, is found the admonition "Thou shalt not steal."
There are many other examples demonstrating this commandment into our laws.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
Some have interpreted this to be analagous to our perjury laws, but nothing in the text indicates that. It's talking about lying in general, not in a legal sense during court proceedings. And while lying may be wrong, it's not legally wrong except in specific circumstances - perjury and libel/slander. Under our system, most instances of lying would be covered by the first amendment free speech clause.>
The 1924, the Oregon Supreme Court declared:No official is above the law. "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is a command of the Decalogue, and that forbidden act is denounced by statute as a felony.
There are many other examples to show this commandment was incorporated into American civil law and jurisprudence.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Not only unconstitutional, it would require the ability to read minds.>
John Adams, one of only two individuals who signed the Bill of Rights, also acknowledged the importance of this commandment, declaring: The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet" and "Thou shalt not steal" were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.
Many courts have also acknowledged the importance of this provision of the Decalogue. For example, in 1895, the California Supreme Court cited this prohibition as the basis of civil laws against defamation. In 1904, the Court of Appeals in West Virginia cited it as the basis of laws preventing election fraud. In 1958, a Florida appeals court cited it as the basis of laws targeting white-collar crime. And in 1951, the Oregon Supreme Court cited this Decalogue prohibition as the basis of civil laws against modern forms of cattle rustling.
There are numerous other examples that all affirm that the tenth commandment of the Decalogue did indeed form an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
All the framers believed religion and morality are mandatory in our society: 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 law."
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."
John Quincy Adams
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.
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)
Dewitt Clinton, the Framer who introduced the 12th Amendment, also declared: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.
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.