The Ku Klux Klan and the Supreme Court
US Supreme Court Justice Hugo La Fayette Black traded in his White KKK robe for the Black Supreme Court robe.
While watching Brit Hume’s program on religion in America last night, I learned a very interesting nugget of information. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who wrote the opinion in the 1947 Everson vs. Board of Education in which religious schools would no longer be eligible for Federal funds, was once a member of the KKK.
The significance, according to the program, was that Justice Black was outspokenly anti-Catholic and was afraid of the growing influence of Catholics in American politics. He resurected a passage in a letter written in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association assuring them that he was a protector or religious liberty. The passage alluded to a "wall of seperation" created by the first amendment that prevented the Congress from dictating religious beliefs.
Jefferson’s meaning was clearly not to prevent religion from informing public policy and debate, but to prevent government from influencing religious institutions. But Black used the phrase to politicize a Court that, up until then, had interpreted the Constitution as it was written. Black wrote that the First Amendment “was intended to erect a wall of separation between Church and State,” and that it “must be kept high and impregnable.”
Most Americans believe that the Constitution calls for a "seperation of Church and State" when in fact, it says nothing of the kind. They might be shocked to realize that our modern understanding was actually the creation of a former Klansman who used the Court to further his own political agenda of attempting to freeze Catholics out of the political process. [click here for entire text]
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