|Supreme Law of the Land|
by Reed R. Heustis, Jr.
January 3, 2008
|OST STUDENTS OF Constitutional Law are taught the principle that the United States Constitution is the "supreme Law of the Land." Indeed Article VI of the United States Constitution unequivocally proclaims this precept:|
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." (emphasis added)
Unfortunately these same students are never taught that there exists one sovereign power that reigns supreme, even over the Constitution: King Jesus Christ.
Inevitably students will retort, "It is logically impossible for the Constitution to be the supreme law of the land if there exists yet another supreme law of the land."
Such an observation would be logically correct - unless, that is, the Constitution incorporated the higher law by reference.
That is precisely what the Constitution does.
In Article VII of the Constitution, the deputies of the Constitutional Convention incorporate by reference two sovereign powers. In reverse order they are (1) the Declaration of Independence; and (2) the Lord Jesus Christ:
"The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
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 In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names, ..." (emphasis added)
The year 1787, which was when the Constitution was adopted, was also the 12th year of Independence, dating back to the Declaration of Independence of 1776. By invoking "the Independence of the United States of America," the deputies explicitly acknowledged its sovereignty over that of any other head of state, including that of the King of Great Britain.
However, more importantly, the same year also marked the one thousand seven hundred eighty-seventh year of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Bible dubs, "the Lord of lords and King of kings."
Pagans, atheists and many other unbelievers will undoubtedly rationalize that such acknowledgements made in important legal documents were mere customs of the day, and therefore bore no significance, legal or otherwise.
While it is true that such acknowledgements may have been "customs of the day," they were extremely significant.
Various legal documents, especially those of a constitutional or governmental nature, regularly invoked the year of our lord, and many times in Latin (Anno Domini). Oftentimes, these acknowledgements were made simultaneously with recognitions of the current reigning head of state. By acknowledging the current reigning potentate, the document likewise recognizes its legitimacy.
This custom dates back to Old Testament times, and perhaps even earlier.
In the First Book of Kings, a reference is made to "the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel," (1 Kings 6:1) while in the Book of Ezra, another reference is made to "the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia." (Ezra 4:24)
Acknowledging the current reigning sovereign was akin to recognizing the legitimacy of one's rule over a specific area and people.
In 1620, the signers of the Mayflower Compact acknowledged both the reign of King James over several areas and peoples; and of our Lord Jesus Christ:
"In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini [Year of our Lord], 1620."
Had the Mayflower pilgrims acknowledged any sovereign other than King James, there would have been severe political consequences. Thus, it is folly to believe that acknowledgements of sovereigns in important documents were mere customs without any legal significance.
Had the deputies at the Constitutional Convention believed that the Attestation Clause would be without legal significance, they would have acknowledged the continued rule of King George III. Of course, such an acknowledgement would have rendered the entire Declaration of Independence unintelligible. Why would they acknowledge the continued reign of King George III when they just got finished publishing an entire laundry list that reveals his intent to establish "an absolute Tyranny" over the States? How absurd.
It may have been a "custom of the day" to acknowledge the powers that be, but such "custom" does not automatically render the acknowledgement insignificant.
The United States Constitution is not a perfect document, and its imperfections have been a thorn in the side of American Christians since its ratification. Certainly the Constitution easily could have been more explicitly Christian as was the Mayflower Compact, which unambiguously proclaimed the "Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith...."
Indeed, constitutional documents and the organic laws which they incorporate, should not only recognize that individual rights come from a Creator, as the Declaration of Independence does, but they should also clearly identify the Sovereign of sovereigns, the Lord Jesus Christ, by name.
While the Constitution accomplishes both through its incorporation by reference, it fails to do so with teeth. A "new and improved" Constitution would lay out a more explicitly Christian mission, as did the Mayflower Compact and other state constitutions and charters that explicitly proclaimed Christ and His Gospel.
Nevertheless, those who allege that the Constitution does not acknowledge any law higher than itself, let alone the Law of Christ, usually wield an anti-Christian agenda that includes banishing Jesus Christ from any realm of civil governance.
Unfortunately, too many Christians are content with letting these unbelievers take the reins of government, so that they can run the nation into the ground.
Christians must become responsible stewards of their civil government, and elect and prefer Christians as their rulers - those who will uphold explicitly Christian principles in the civil sphere without apology or compromise.
Acknowledging the Year of our Lord is only a beginning.
Reed R. Heustis, Jr., Esq. is a Southern California native, and publisher of Christian Constitutionalist. A member of the State Bar of California, Reed earned his Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in San Diego, and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of California at Irvine. Reed and his family are members of a local church affiliated with the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America.
More columns by Reed R. Heustis, Jr.