It has often been argued that the statement in Article VI that the Constitution is the “supreme Law of the Land” is a prohibition against using the Bible as a measure of which laws are good and which are not. It is claimed that laws are to be measured by the Constitution alone and not by the Law of God for the Constitution is the supreme law of our land. In responding to this challenge it is important to note that the founders never intended by the use of this phrase to claim that the Constitution was superior to the Law of God. They intended only to convey the idea that of all the laws written by the various states of the land, the Constitution is to be considered supreme. It is superior to all other “laws of the land” but not necessarily to all other laws.
That this was the view intended by the founders is evident from Federalist Paper Number 44 which states:
Advertisement - story continues below
“The indiscreet zeal of the adversaries to the constitution, has betrayed them into an attack on this part of it also without which it would have been evidently and radically defective. To be fully sensible of this, we need only suppose for a moment, that the supremacy of the state constitutions had been left complete, by a saving clause in their favor.
In the first place, as these constitutions invest the state legislatures with absolute sovereignty, in all cases not excepted by the existing articles of confederation, all the authorities contained in the proposed constitution, so far as they exceed those enumerated in the confederation, would have been annulled, and the new congress would have been reduced to the same impotent condition with their predecessors.
In the next place, as the constitutions of some of the states do not even expressly and fully recognize the existing powers of the confederacy, an express saving of the supremacy of the former, would in such states have brought into question, every power contained in the proposed constitution.
Advertisement - story continues below
In the third place, as the constitutions of the states differ much from each other, it might happen that a treaty or national law of great and equal importance to the states would interfere with some, and not with other constitutions, and would consequently be valid in some of the states, at the same time that it would have no effect in others.
In fine, the world would have seen for the first time, a system of government founded on an inversion of the fundamental principles of all government; it would have seen the authority of the whole society every where subordinate to the authority of the parts; it would have seen a monster, in which the head was under the direction of the members.”
The Law of God was never considered by the founders to be inferior to the Constitution. In fact, they rested the justification for their independence solely upon His Law as I explained in a previous article.
To view the Constitution as superior to the Law of God would have been completely foreign to the founders. They were all well acquainted with the commentaries of Sir William Blackstone who wrote that, “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.” And James Wilson, one of the few founders to have signed both the Declaration and the Constitution as well as one of our first Justices of the Supreme Court, wrote that “Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine.”
Facebook has greatly reduced the distribution of our stories in our readers' newsfeeds and is instead promoting mainstream media sources. When you share to your friends, however, you greatly help distribute our content. Please take a moment and consider sharing this article with your friends and family. Thank you.