The Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building

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Aug 28, 2006 35 Comments ›› Ben DuPré

The Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building

Update: Links have been updated as of Dec. 6, 2010.

On the Foundation’s homepage (http://www NULL.morallaw, this week’s America Acknowledges God (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.html) highlights Moses with the Ten Commandments in theMoses with Decalogue (http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf) Supreme Court’s courtroom (left). There are, in fact, many other representations of the Ten Commandments in that building.

Many who learn of the Decalogue’s presence in that courtroom are naturally puzzled by such a display because this is the same Court that has shown repeated hostility to Ten Commandments displays in other courtrooms and public buildings. In Stone v. Graham (http://www NULL.cornell NULL.html) in 1980, the Supreme Court held that Kentucky schools could not display the Ten Commandments on classroom walls because “[i]f the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments,” which, the Court said, is “not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.” More recently, the Court just last year told McCreary County, Kentucky (http://www NULL.cornell NULL.ZO NULL.html) that its Ten Commandments display had to go, but that a Ten Commandments monument in Texas (http://www NULL.cornell NULL.ZS NULL.html) could stay. Perhaps mindful of the irony, the Court excused (http://www NULL.cornell NULL.ZO NULL.html#FN22SRC) its own Ten Commandments display (left) because it is “in the company of 17 other lawgivers, most of them secular figures.”

The Court should know that the Constitution (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.htm) does not require the public display of God’s law to be crowded out by an overwhelming counterbalance of “secular figures” or documents.

Apparently, the architects and designers of the Supreme Court’s building (http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.aspx), built in 1935, did not foresee that its occupants-to-be would be stripping the public square of references to God because, throughout the Supreme Court’s building, representations of the Ten Commandments abound. In addition to the frieze with Moses highlighted above, here are some examples of the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building, all of which can be seen on the Court’s website (http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.aspx).



Click on picture for further information at Supreme Court’s website.

Moses with Two Tablets on the East Face

(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)

Moses on the West Exterior Facade

(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)

Ten Commandments on Front Bronze Doors

(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)

Moses & Ten Commandments in Great Hall (8 times)

(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)
Ten Commandments on Wooden Interior Courtroom Doors
(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)

Ten Commandments* in Frieze Above Bench

(http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf)

*This marble frieze featuring a tablet or tableau with Roman numerals I through X directly above the Chief Justice’s chair is identified (http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.pdf) by the Supreme Court Curator’s Office as “The Bill of Rights,” and not the Ten Commandments. The Curator claims to have found, within the past few years, a letter from the sculptor describing this as the Bill of Rights. However, the context of the frieze depicts classical figures and symbols of law and government, which would make the Ten Commandments much more appropriate to the theme than the Bill of Rights, more especially in light of the prevalence of the Ten Commandments symbols throughout the building—in Roman numerals—and the corresponding lack of such Bill of Rights symbols. Moreover, the Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to the United States Supreme Court (1979) identified this symbol as a “tableau of the Ten Commandments,” as does a 1986 National Historic Landmark book on the National Park Service’s website here (http://www NULL.nps NULL.htm). What do you think? Commandments or Amendments?

Do you now see why it would be awfully hypocritical for the Supreme Court to banish any display of the Ten Commandments from public view? Any sandblasting of such displays would have to start with their building, and it would certainly take awhile. Instead of drawing fine distinctions about “context” and crowds of “secular figures,” the Court should just come clean and admit that no public display of the Ten Commandments violates the First Amendment, including their own.

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  1. Commandments or Amendments? at Firm Foundation (http://morallaw says:

    [...] WorldNetDaily today headlines a controversy that we have touched on in this blog: whether the marble frieze above the U.S. Supreme Court bench (shown above) displays a tableau of the Ten Commandments or the Bill of Rights. Pastor Todd Dubord of California recently took a tour of Washington, D.C., and he thinks the Supreme Court and its tour guides are revising history and lying about what the tableau represents. Pastor Dubord put together this thorough research paper on the subject. [...]

  2. nj says:

    The day you guys take pride in being christians and follow the commandments
    rather than letting those who dont have freedom of any thing in there own native lands to dictate where to put christianity that is rather pathetic ,
    eg A khan applying to remove public dispays what a laugh

  3. G says:

    This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. Depicting Moses is not the same as depicting the Ten Commandments. You clearly don’t see the difference, so I’ll explain why the depictions in the Supreme Court are okay.

    What’s wrong with displaying the Ten Commandments is not that the laws themselves are bad (though I’d say a few of them are- do we really want our government enforcing adultery laws? Well, you nut jobs may, but the rest of us don’t because we like having our own lives and resolving our problems ourselves). The problem is displaying them as the superior law. They aren’t. Their manufacture is of historical importance in the realm of law, so showing reverence for that is alright. At the same time, acting as though those laws hold sway over our nation as the Final And Divine Word Of Lord God Almighty Blessings Be Upon His Name Without The Approved Written Consent Of Major League Baseball Thy Will Be Done A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down is a clear violation of the separation of Church and State.

    By the way, separation of Church and State isn’t a myth. Look up what Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin had to say about Christianity. Look up with John Adams wrote about it in the Treaty of Tripoli. They and the other Fathers specifically voted down numerous attempts to include the word “God” in the Constitution. Think that was an accident?

  4. Michael Harvey says:

    I suggest reading the 1st Amendment. The words ‘separation’, ‘church’, and ‘state’ do not even appear. The Bill of Rights was signed by John Adams, and the REV Augustus Mullenburg, the original speaker of the house—that’s right, he was a pastor. According to the writings of the founding fathers, the 10 commandments are indeed the highest law of our land. You may be able to get away with ignoring them now in this day and age, but like it or not, if you reject Jesus Christ, one day you will be judged by them, and there won’t be any chance for an appeal.

  5. KLK says:

    The ten commandments ARE the absolute foundation of all human relationships with God and mankind. Commandments 1 – 4 provide the foundation for our relationship with God, and commandments 5 – 10 provide the foundation for our relationships with each other. Indeed there should be civil penalties of varying degrees for any person breaking commandments 5 – 10, but commandments 1 – 4 is a matter of conscience between each person and God.

  6. What’s The REAL Cause Of The Finance Market Meltdown? | American Sentinel (http://theamericansentinel says:

    [...] blatantly anti-religious manner.  In the case of the Ten Commandments, it was decided that, “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the….”  And we couldn’t have any of that, could [...]

  7. Esther Berglin says:

    Wait, whoever said the Ten Commandments were “christian?” And who said Moses was “christian?” The Ten Commandments were brought to all of the people by Moses from G-d. Moses was a Jew. Jesus was a Jew. I don’t recall ever hearing that Jesus converted to anything else. Just the facts please. Believe in G-d, live by the Ten Commandments and hopefully your life will be happier. And let others believe in what they do.

  8. WHAMMO! says:

    “Jesus was a Jew. I don’t recall ever hearing that Jesus converted to anything else.”

    Esther, you some piece of work trying to claim that Jesus wasn’t a Christian! LOL!!!

  9. Ladyyno says:

    The Ten Commandments were written by the finger of GOD, [Yahweh] , for the Jews , delivered to the Jews, by the Jew, Moses, on Mt. Sinai.

    Christ was the Word in flesh. He established Christianity which means [follower of Christ]. The Old Testament [covenant] was upgraded by Jesus Christ when He stated, “love your neighbor and love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul and with all thy mind. On these 2 hang all the rest.” The New Testament should be called the “Renewed Covenant”

    Since the secular progressives have taken over, this country is under judgement, because we have abandoned the God of the bible. Love is NOT being propagated in this country whatsoever. God help us all.

  10. Ladyyno says:

    KLK: I must disagree with you , with all due respect. The Ten Commandments are NO LONGER the foundation of a relationship with God: the coming of Christ has replaced the Law; that is our NEW foundation. But the Law was defininitely necessary beforehand and is valid today as a guide to good living.

    I don’t know if you adhere to the Renewed Covenant {New Testament}, but St. Paul plainly states that the Law was a school master as well as a structured way to please God, but that it died on the cross with Christ. We are no longer under this Law; it has been replaced by faith and mercy. The Law is still good to go by, but keeping it will not save you because you CAN’T keep it to the letter.

    But I definitely believe that the Ten Commandments must stay on our buildings.

    It’s time for the church to get out of the world and the world to get out of the church!!!!

  11. John Taylor (http://www NULL.btinternet NULL.html) says:

    Great blog. Do you know of any relevant NLP forums or discussion groups?

  12. Last Day Watchers » Blog Archive » DISESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION (http://lastdaywatchers says:

    [...] buildings, especially our “public” schools because (I’m not making this up”) “if the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and [...]

  13. Leftist Thought Led To Fascism – And Is Doing So Again « Start Thinking Right (http://startthinkingright NULL.wordpress says:

    [...] the epitome of transcendent divinely-ordained moral law – in public schools.  And why not?  Because judges ruled that: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to [...]

  14. William Johansen says:

    The Commandments are as valid today as the day God scratched them in two tablets with His Finger. Here in the Us we have taken to mocking God’s Commandments. The other day I saw a car with the bumper sticker that said “Islam Is The Way” and “Read The Quran” however you chose to spell it. The last people who would want Sharia Law in effect were the young mixed race people in the car. They are evidently unaware that under Sharia Law adultery is punished by Beheading. Theft is punishable by cutting off a hand. Maybe those who hate God’s Commandments will like Sharia Law better? Those are also based on the Ten Commandments that God Gave Moses.

    It’s time for the churches to once again get off their fat behinds and take an interest in political things. We need Godly people for candidates and we need Godly people going to the voting booth with sense enough to know that you do not vote sodomites and lesbians into public office.

    It’s time to get Government out of the business of the church just as the First Ammendment states. No Government interference in church business.

  15. William Johansen says:

    I do not moderate the truth. Now we have censorship of truth in this web site of all web sites? What a joke!

  16. Site Administrator (http://morallaw says:

    Mr. Johansen,
    To protect against spam, this blog’s host uses an automatic spam filter software. Some comments, including your first one posted today, require approval of the moderator before they are published. Generally, only those rare comments that are clearly spam, too obscene to be edited, or accidental repeat comments are not approved for publication here. Sometimes a brief delay ensues before the comment can be approved. Rest assured, there is no censorship here.

  17. Angelgirl says:

    For the one who was asking about discussion groups or forums, of course now I doubt if they will ever check back….if you register with which is a social network, they have an abundance of Christian forums.

    To Mr. Johansen, check your state to see if you have the Constitution Party on your ballot. If you don’t, see what you can do about getting it on there. You can check out the platform on (http://www NULL.Constitutionparty

    I agree, it is time we get God fearing people in government. I will never understand why people and government have to be the way they are. To live for the Lord gives you so much peace. However, all this has been prophesied in the Word of God. The New World Order, (one world government) as well as a one world religion. It is all in there and soon the time will be approaching that Jesus will return and conquer the world. All that is happening now is just laying the ground for the anti-christ. Prophesy WILL be fulfilled. I read the back of the book however…and we win!

  18. S. Ormon says:

    Listen up, all you fruitloops, you can’t separate church & state. The laws of man originate from the laws of God, they’re 1 & the same, like it, accept it, or not. Such hypocrisy, really. In a court of law, why swear to tell the truth on a bible? Civilization functions better with laws of man & laws of God, it actually IS civilization, it’s what keeps a balance in our lives. And no, G., too many people have proved they are incapable of solving their own problems independently, without compounding their problems, & I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re 1 of them……And the 10 Commandments originated with Moses, for those fruits that don’t remember the connection with Moses. AMEN.

  19. Official Thread: Federal judge rules California ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. - Politics and Other Controversies -Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - Page (http://www NULL.html#post15599161) says:

    [...] 10 Commandments and the Supreme Court Building Court Split Over Commandments – The Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building at Firm Foundation Supreme Court splits on Ten Commandments / The Christian Science Monitor – U.S. [...]

  20. Bevy Moore says:

    I am doing a report for a college class on The removal of Bible reading & prayer from public schools. I have come across some interesting facts. If the country is made up of 75% Christians & only 15% atheiests, then why is the 15% ruling? Where is the democracy? Congress prays before every session, federal officials take their oaths upon the Bible, “In God We Trust” is stamped upon our currency, Moses & the Ten Commandments are prominently displayed in the Supreme Court building. If religion is accepted in these government institutions, then I believe it should not stop at the schoolhouse door! When 9-11 hit, all you could hear everywhere was, “God bless America!” Our country relys on God when things go bad. Everyone was then expressing publicly their faith in God, but they can’t do it in school?! This seems contradictory to me. If you’re offended because I pray, then I’m offended because you don’t!

  21. Chrissy the Hyphenated (http://community NULL.webshots says:

    I visited the SCOTUS site today and could find no information about the building’s architectural artwork except at (http://www NULL.supremecourt NULL.aspx).

    Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but of the ones I looked at, this page had the most about this subject and it did not have links or much in the way of photos, which makes me think whatever was there when you linked to it has been scrubbed.

    The article mentions Moses exactly ONCE. And the frieze above judge’s bench isn’t described at all.

  22. Site Administrator (http://morallaw says:

    The Supreme Court recently renovated not just their building but their website, too, resulting in the breaking of the previous links in this post. The links have been corrected and should now bring you to the correct page. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  23. Chuck says:

    Moshe was Hebrew but not a Jew, He was from the tribe of Levi, and so was his Brother Aaron, not from the tribe of Yahuda (Judah).

    I shudder to think of Govenment enforcing religion…er wait they already do – secular humanism.
    Better they be bound by the chains of the Constitution, which they’ve got loose from. Best govenment is one that governs least.

    I certainly wouldn’t want Govenment enforcing the 10 commandments….
    but humourous imagining them coercing Christians to:
    - Honor the Sabbath – 4th commandment (friday sundown to saturday sundown), day of rest – no buying and selling.
    - Honoring the 3rd commandment and banning all bibles that replace YaHuWaH’s name with “the LORD”
    - 2nd commandment: tear down all the pagan steeples (high places – sun pillars), cruxes (sun god symbol), statues and other graven images.

  24. Mike Duquette says:

    Looking at the theists comments here, one can see why these icons on our government buildings were a poor decision to install.
    It is obvious that these icons only put a stamp from religion upon our government.
    Thus, the obvious violation of establishment of religion. The establishment of religion is not allowed by the first amendment.
    I am always amused when someone tries to say these symbols of religion do not identify our nation as a Christian ideology or agenda. These posts prove this is not so. Look at any site that writes of these things and you will find the same attitudes.
    I am an atheist and am repulsed to be identified in the idea of myths. It is down right embarrassing.

  25. Judge Roy Moore for president!!!!!!! - Page 2 - Christian Forums (http://www NULL.christianforums says:

    [...] Originally Posted by Ringo84 I am. A man of integrity doesn't try to use the Ten Commandments as a political football. Ringo The law of God is the basis of American law. To have the ten commandments in a courthouse is not a crime…just as the Supreme Court: The Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building | Firm Foundation [...]

  26. Judge Moore & Foundation Applaud Tennessee Legislature for Ten Commandments Resolution « The Foundation For Moral Law (http://morallaw says:

    [...] only of the Ten Commandments, its “countless depictions” in our Nation’s Capital (see the Supreme Court depictions here), ”its profound influence on the formation of American legal thought, and its fundamental [...]

  27. Walter Ezell says:

    The Supreme Court did not take prayer or Bible reading out of public schools. Children can take a Bible to school and read it during private moments. They can pray in the closet of their internal consciousness, which is the way Jesus said to pray. The Supreme Court ruled that using the implicit authority of the state to pressure children to engage in a religious practice (prayer or Bible reading) is an abuse of state power and a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Do we want children to conform to the outward practice of Christianity because of peer pressure and imposed authority, or do we want them to be inspired and attracted by God’s Word put into practice (“by their fruits ye shall know them”)? Wouldn’t it be great if we spent more time living and following Christ’s example, and less time fretting that we can’t tell children what religion to believe when they are attending public schools?

  28. Orneal Kooyers (http://None) says:

    We are publishing the book, The Moral Law and Its Supremacy in Life and Governance, and it will be available February 4, 2012. It relates to whether rain falls on California or does not.

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  29. johnny morales says:

    Ok so i read how a few individuals pointed out that Jesus was a Jew, Moses was a Jew and this is true but one thing they conveniently forgot to mention is his name ends in Christ, Jesus Christ hence comes the term Christian or to be christ like so please stop for a second a really see what you speak is all truth part truth or just plan washed out garbage quit going by what people say and have original thought

  30. On atheism.. cont’d | SomeWisdom (http://somewisdom says:

    [...] This is seen by the display of religious facets and artifacts in government buildings, both old and new, or by the presence of the phrase “under God” in the pledge of allegiance since [...]

  31. JP Morgan And MF Global Prove That Democrat Regulations DON’T WORK. Democrats Create Disasters And Then Run By Demagoguing Those Disasters. « Start Thinking Right (http://startthinkingright NULL.wordpress says:

    [...] in 1962, when the Court threw out prayer in schools and threw the Ten Commandments out in 1980.  The liberal court decreed that: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to [...]

  32. theonetruevoiceofgod says:

    Faith and Reason are two sides of a coin. For it is true that faith is belief without fact; and reason requires no faith to believe. I say to you, “Live by reason, and accept it as proof of my grace; as you must continually question faith as man’s deception in ignorance.” – totvog

  33. My Response To Liberals About Gun Control (It’s Really Conservatives Who Ought To Read It, Though). « Start Thinking Right (http://startthinkingright NULL.wordpress says:

    [...] the kind of people who have refused to allow the posting of the Ten Commandments because “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to [...]

  34. Of Jesus, The Woman Caught In Adultery, Public Morality, The Law – And The Consequences Of Ignoring Our Developing Social Crisis « Start Thinking Right (http://startthinkingright NULL.wordpress says:

    [...] Liberals are the kind of people who have refused to allow the posting of the Ten Commandments because “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to [...]

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