"The Year of Our Lord"
phorwitz at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 30 13:41:45 PDT 2010
You're quite right; I was focusing on a different part of the text.
From: crgreen at olemiss.edu
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: "The Year of Our Lord"
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 15:36:45 -0500
I agree that the "grateful to Almighty God" bit in the NJ "We the People" clause doesn't have a federal counterpart. But the NJ Year-of-our-Lord bit isn't in the We-the-People clause; it's just in a statement about when the Constitution was "agreed upon by the delegates," exactly parallel to the federal statement about when it was "Done in Convention." My point is that whatever umbrage Sandy takes specifically at the NJ year-of-our-Lord bit should also be directed at the federal constitution.
I'm sure Smith & Tillman talk about the disputed significance of the Year-of-our-Lord clauses, but do they really talk about the significance of whether that clause is placed at the head or tail of the document?
From: Paul Horwitz [mailto:phorwitz at hotmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 3:24 PM
To: crgreen at olemiss.edu; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: "The Year of Our Lord"
It's not just a difference of placement. There are arguments over this point (see Steve Smith's article on our agnostic Constitution and Seth Barrett Tillman's recent reply to Geoff Stone), but it is at least plausible that the Year of Our Lord language in the Constitution is a simple dating convention; certainly it is harder to read it as making a statement, even a weak one, about what citizens do or should believe. The New Jersey statement, on the other hand, uses a majority or supermajority of citizens to make an official statement about what "We, [all] the people of the State of New Jersey," believe. Whether one thinks that makes it unconstitutional is a separate question, but the two statements are not simply equivalent.
> From: crgreen at olemiss.edu
> To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: RE: "The Year of Our Lord"
> Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 14:41:04 -0500
> FWIW, the federal Constitution says at the end that it was "Done in
> Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth
> Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and
> Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the
> Twelfth." Putting it at the end rather than right before the "We the
> People" bit, NJ-style, doesn't really make a difference, does it?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
> [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Sanford Levinson
> Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 1:46 PM
> To: Bhagwat, Ashutosh A.; Rick Duncan; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu; Ira (Chip)
> Subject: RE: Salazar v. Buono - A Hypothetical
> Standing, of course, is utterly irrelevant to the substantive question of
> the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of any given measure. It
> relates only to the institutional question of what role we want courts to
> play in enforcing the Constitution. But, as I assume everyone on this list
> agrees, every single federal official and state official takes an Article VI
> oath of constitutional fidelity completely independent of whether or not the
> Court will get around to stating its view. (And, of course, many of the
> people on this list--or at least I--believe that it is perfectly reasonable
> for "conscientious legislators" to believe that the Supreme Court has been
> grievously mistaken on the law and to support the passage of laws that would
> predictably be struck down by the
> committed-to-maintaining-constitutional-error (but, of course, sincere in
> their belief that they are not in fact erroneous) justices. I take it
> that's the subject for another thread.
> On another, but related matter:
> I discovered yesterday, as part of a seminar on comparative constitutional
> design that I'm teaching this semester with Zack Elkins, that the Preamble
> to the 1947 New Jersey Constitution is as follows:
> A Constitution agreed upon by the delegates of the people of New Jersey, in
> Convention, begun at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey,
> in New Brunswick, on the twelfth day of June, and continued to the tenth day
> of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and
> We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for
> the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy,
> and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit
> the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this
> Could New Jersey constitutionally require that its Preamble be read aloud at
> the beginning of every school day or (even) at the beginning of every class
> in New Jersey history or New Jersey government)? I take (genuine and
> unfeigned) umbrage at both "the year of our Lord" and the expression of
> gratitude to "Almighty God," which is a double statement of state-sponsored
> theology: i.e., God exists and has the attribute of "almightiness,: which
> at least suggests that our prosperity or misfortunes are directly
> attributable to that God. Still, I'm (sincerely) interested in whether the
> school prayer cases would forbid a state from imposing the Preamble to its
> own constitution on the young. (As some of you know, I'm a big fan of the
> preamble to the US Constitution, not least because it is relentlessly
> non-religious in its language. So I would have no problem with having
> students being forced to listen to that preamble every school day.)
> I assume that none of us (including myself) would favor seeking a judicial
> order that New Jersey rewrite its preamble, though I do assume that at least
> some of us would cheer a voluntary decision of the relevant constitutonal
> amenders in the Garden State to do so.
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