First, let me thank you for your attendance here today. We appreciate you coming, and some of you have come from great distances. I thank Mr. Parker, my legal advisor in the Administrative Office of Courts, for that introduction.
By the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of Alabama as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, as administrative head of the judicial system of this state, by the authority vested in me by Section 41-10-275 as Chief Justice, as the authorized judicial representative of the Unified Judicial System, and finally by the authority vested in the Chief Justice as the authorized representative under the lease of this building in which you stand, I'm pleased to present this monument depicting the moral foundation of our law and hereby authorize it to be placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. By placement of this monument in the rotunda housing the Alabama Supreme Court, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Alabama State Law Library, and the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, this monument will serve to remind the appellate courts and judges of the circuit and district courts of this state, the members of the bar who appear before them, as well as the people who visit the Alabama Judicial Building, of the truth stated in the preamble of the Alabama Constitution, that in order to establish justice, we must invoke "the favor and guidance of Almighty God."
"The institutions of our society are founded on the belief that there is an authority higher than the authority of the State, that there is a moral law which the State is powerless to alter, and that the individual possesses rights conferred by the Creator which government must respect. The Declaration of Independence stated the now familiar theme, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they're endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the body of the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights is enshrined these principles."
Some of you might think the words that I just spoke are my words, carefully structured to fit my own ends; or perhaps a quote from a past long ago, but certainly not true or relevant to our law today. On the contrary, those words are not my words, they're not an ancient quote relevant to law. They're the words of Justice William O. Douglas in 1961 in the case of McGowan v. Maryland.
But today, a mere forty years later, many judges and other government officials across our land deny that there's a higher law. They forbid teaching your children that they're created in the image of Almighty God, and that while they purport all the while that it is government and not God who gave us our rights. Not only have they turned away from those absolute standards which form the basis of our morality and the moral foundation of our law, but they have divorced the Constitution and the Bill of Rights from these principles. As they have sown the wind, so we have reaped the whirlwind, in our homes, in our schools and in our workplaces.
When I ran for the office of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I made a pledge to restore the moral foundation of law. It is axiomatic that to restore morality, we must first recognize the source of that morality. From our earliest history in 1776, when we were first pleased to be called the Untied States of America, our forefathers recognized the sovereignty of God.
As late as 1954, the United States Congress placed in our Pledge of Allegiance the word "under God," and said the inclusion of God in our pledge, therefore, would further acknowledge the dependence of our people and our government upon the moral directions of the Creator. Judges, legislators, and executive officers around our country have, since our nation's birth, consistently pledged under oath, "so help me God," to uphold the Constitution.
Immediately after my election in November of 2000, I contacted Mr. Richard Hahnemann, an accomplished sculptor, to assist me in the construction and design of this monument. Based upon my specifications, he worked, together with myself and my legal assistant and attorney, Mr. Stephen Melchior, for the past eight months to complete this project.
I would like to point out that no tax funds are used in the construction or installation, which was accomplished last evening so as not to conflict with this workplace. I would like to recognize Clark Memorial of Birmingham, Mr. Pierre Tourney, Sr., Mr. Pierre Tourney, Jr., for their help in the construction, design and installation, as well as the transportation of this monument to this building.
And what an appropriate date this is. For it was on August 1st of 1776, exactly 225 years ago today, that Samuel Adams, the father of the American Revolution, stood before a rather large crowd at the Philadelphia State House. And on its steps, he delivered a speech prior to the formal signing of the Declaration of Independence on August 2nd of 1776. He began by stating, "We have explored the temple of royalty and found that the idol that we have bowed down to has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like the nether millstone."
Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded and for those simple truths which our forefathers found to be self-evident; but once again, we find that those cries have fallen upon eyes that have seen not, ears that hear not our prayers, and hearts much like that nether millstone.
Samuel Adams concluded his remarks by saying, "We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which he bestowed upon them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come." And may this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land.
This monument, ladies and gentlemen, tells a story. If you look to the front, you'll see on the inset, "The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." It was on those laws, the will of the Maker, upon which the Declaration of Independence was premised and upon which the Constitution was predicated.
James Madison, for example, the chief architect of the Constitution, said we were entitled to have a constitution because of the transcendent law of nature and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.
They knew the law. The law was clearly written by Sir William Blackstone, which was the law of this country for many, many decades. He said, "This law of nature, being co-eval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligations to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries and at all times, and no humans laws are of any validity if contrary to this." This law of nature and the law of revelation pin all human laws on these two foundations.
On each side of this monument, you'll see quotes from various presidents. For example, George Washington, on the back, said, "Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in our courts of justice."
The first Chief Justice, John Jay, also with President Washington, said, "If testimony of witnesses, if the oaths ever cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most precious rights will become insecure."
On the right side as you face it, you'll see the Constitution and the Preamble of Alabama, which says that we must invoke the favor and guidance of Almighty God; but you'll also sing -- see that National Anthem. Oh, you won't see the first stanza, "Oh, say can you see" -- you know it very well -- "by the dawn's early light." You'll see the verse we neglect today: "Thus be it ever when freemen shall stand between their loved home and the war's desolation, blest with vict'ry and peace. May the heaven rescued land praise the power that has made and preserved this nation. And conquer we must when our cause it is just. And this be our motto - in god is our trust. And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Indeed, in 1956, the United states Congress, by act of Congress, by law today, made "In God We Trust" our national anthem - our national motto. "So help me God," by which we pledge to uphold the constitution, has been around since 1789, when the Judiciary Act established that as the basis of our oath.
You'll see quotes from that famous third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. He said, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God, that they're not to be violated but with his wrath?" Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that His justice cannot sleep forever.
Surrounding this monument, you see every ounce of support for the acknowledgment of the sovereignty of that God and those absolute standards upon which our laws are based. Oh, this isn't surrounding the plaque with history, historical documents. All history supports the acknowledgment of God. You'll find no documents surrounding the Ten Commandments because they stand alone as an acknowledgment of that God that's contained in our pledge, contained in our motto, and contained in our oath.