The Supreme Court Justices by David Barton
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness? The mere politician ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.
Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail, in exclusion of religious principle. The visible and firm reliance on religious principles which Washington displayed in the Executive Branch was also just as visible in the practices of the Judicial Branch. In the original Supreme Court, each Justice was assigned responsibilities over a specific geographic region.
Although that practice still continues today, those early Justices, unlike today’s Justices, traveled to the different geographic locations across the country to impanel grand juries to hear cases rather than requiring all parties to travel to the federal capital. Chancellor James Kent considered one of the two Fathers of American Jurisprudence observed that this was a practice with Biblical precedent: The Jewish judges rode the circuits, and Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, and he went from year to year in circuit, to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places I SAMUEL 7:15-16.
In preparation for these visits, local officials would correspond with the Supreme Court Justices to ensure that all necessary arrangements had been made prior to their arrival. For example, on February 24, 1790, Richard Law of New London, Connecticut, inquired of Chief Justice John Jay which of the Judges are to ride the eastern circuit and whether they would wish to give any directions relative to the preparation for their reception in point of parade, accommodations or the like, whether any uniformity particularly formalities of dress i.e., manner of judicial robe is expectable, whether they would wish to have a clergyman attend. Chief Justice Jay responded:
David Barton – Gallop conducted a survey of the unchurched two years ago. He asked them what was the most boring place in their opinion.