Justice Tom Parker delivered the following speech on January 14, 2005 at his investiture to the Alabama Supreme Court.
May it please the Courts.
Governor, Public Officials, friends and family, thank you for being here today.
The defining question for the American people today is this: “By what standard?”
By what standard shall we govern ourselves? By what standard shall our courts interpret the Constitution? Who is the ultimate voice of authority? Is it the people? Is it the judges who wear black robes? Are they truly the ultimate voice of authority? Or is there a higher source from which even the legitimacy of constitutions ultimately derive their authority, and to whom the allegiance of every policy maker and judge is due?
Our Founding Fathers answered this question with resounding clarity when they boldly declared that “We are endowed by our CREATOR with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
With these twenty-five simple words, that remarkable delegation of citizen patriots was able to declare with stunning precision what fewer and fewer modern jurists seem able to understand or communicate in their many thousands of pages of decisions rendered during the course of a lifetime.
Namely, this: The very God of Holy Scriptures, the CREATOR, is the source of law, life and liberty. It is to Him, not evolving standards or arbitrary pronouncements of judges, that the leaders of every nation owe their ultimate allegiance.
The most influential jurist on the thinking of our Founding Fathers, Sir William Blackstone, put it this way:
The doctrines thus delivered we call revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in Holy Scriptures. Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human law should be suffered to contradict these.
Blackstone would add a cautious reminder: Judges do not make law; they do but discover it from its true source.
Yesterday, January 13th, 2005, I was administered the oath of office at the United States Supreme Court building by the leading advocate in our land for original intent interpretation of the Constitution, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Just moments before I placed my hand on the Holy Scripture, Justice Thomas soberly addressed me and all in attendance. He admonished us to remember that the work of a justice should be evaluated by one thing and one thing only–whether or not he is faithful to uphold his oath, an oath which, as Justice Thomas pointed out, is not to the people, not to the state, and not to the constitution, but an oath which is to God Himself.
Today, I once again placed my hand on the Bible, God’s Holy Word. On this day the oath was administered to me by a man who is well known to each of you, a man who sacrificed his very office in the holy cause of liberty. Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Supreme Court of Alabama understood that oaths are sworn to the Creator, that they must be upheld, and that no judge or set of justices may banish from the courtroom the very source of authority which gives legitimacy to law itself.
As I took the oath of office today, I placed my hand on the Biblical charge to judges:
“Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man, but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery. You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord.”
(2 Chronicles 19:6-9)
I stand here today, humbled by this charge, but a grateful man who aspires to adhere to that tradition embodied in the sentiments spoken to me yesterday by Justice Clarence Thomas, and the commitment to our Founders’ vision of authority and the rule of law personified by Chief Justice Roy Moore.
As I took the oath of office yesterday at the U.S. Supreme Court, I placed my hand on those Scriptures which represent my defining prayer not only for this Court, but for every court in our great land. This prayer is summarized in the words of the Lord, who spoke through the prophet Isaiah, declaring:
I will restore your judges as in days of old,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called, The City of Righteousness, the Faithful city.
Thank you for the great honor bestowed upon me today. I will always view my oath as solemn, binding and mission-defining.
May God guide us and direct us. May we boldly proclaim that it is God, Jesus Christ who gives us life and liberty. May we, as justices who have taken oaths to our God, never fear to acknowledge Him. And may the Alabama Supreme Court lead this nation in our gratitude, humility and deference, to the only true source of law, our Creator.