Biblical and Constitutional Politics
The Bible, the US Constitution, and the Rule of Law
By Gary F. Zeolla
The following article is excepted from my new book Tearing the USA Apart: From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections. This excerpt is from “Chapter Four: The Soap Opera Continues” in “Section Two: Before and Through the Sexual Assault Hearing.” The time period is right before the sexual assault allegation hearing. It concerned Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of a sexual assault against D.C. Circuit Court Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, while they were both in high school in the summer of 1982. This was right after Debra Ramirez and Julie Swetnick had also made allegations against Kavanaugh.
The preceding mentioned rules of jurisprudence are codified in the US Constitution and other laws and statutes of the United States, but they did not originate with the USA. They have a long history in western society, dating all the way back to the Old Testament of the Bible.
Below are some of the many relevant Bible passages that could be cited, with commentary by yours truly relating these verses to the situation at hand.
16“You will not give false testimony against your neighbor, [giving] false testimony” (Exodus 20:16).
The Bible is clear that giving false testimony against someone is a sin. In fact, it is so wrong that such is mentioned here, as the ninth of the Ten Commandments. This commandment is so important, Jesus repeats it in the New Testament (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19). If any of the women who have accused Kavanaugh are lying, then they will fall under the condemnation of this Commandment, as will anyone else who makes such a false allegation.
15One witness will not remain [fig., stand] to testify against a person for any iniquity or for any fault or for any sin which he may commit. By [the] mouth of two witnesses or by [the] mouth of three witnesses shall every word [or, matter] be established. [Matt 18:16; 2Cor 13:1; 1Tim 5:19] 16“But if an unjust witness rises up against a person, alleging ungodliness against him; 17then shall the two people which to them is the dispute stand before the LORD and before the priests and before the judges, who shall be in those days. 18And the judges shall make diligent inquiry. And listen! [If] an unjust witness has borne unjust testimony [and] has stood up against his brother, 19then you* shall do to him [in] which manner he wickedly [devised] to do against his brother, and you will remove the evil from yourselves (Deut 19:15-19).
This is a vital paragraph. It starts by giving the standard for demonstrating the truth of an allegation. One witness is insufficient to establish a matter. There must be at least two or three witnesses. And note that this collaborating testimony is needed for “every word [or, matter].” That is important, as having two different witnesses for two different allegations is not collaborating evidence for either. In other words, Ford’s allegation is not buttressed by Ramirez’s allegations, as they are two different “words” or “matters.” What each one needs is for someone to collaborate each specific claim, but none have been forthcoming.
In the context of Bible times, it was human eyewitnesses of an event that were in mind. But today, forensic evidence could also be considered to be a second “witness.” Thus, fingerprints, DNA evidence, and the like could all be collaborating witnesses to an allegation. But there is no such collaboration for any of the claims against Kavanaugh. Given that these claims are all for events over three decades old, there hardly could be. That is why such decades old allegations are so hard to prove or disprove, along with people’s memories of the events fading.
It must also be noted that the need for two or three witnesses to prove a claim is on the accuser’s side, not the defendant’s side. It is the allegation that is the “word” that needs proven. What that means is, underlying this command is the basic premise of someone being innocent until proven guilty.
Then in verse 18, it says, “the judges shall make diligent inquiry.” That is what the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) has done each time a new allegation has come forth. SJC Chairman Grassley said each time, they immediately put investigators on it, looking into the allegation. They then interviewed the relevant witnesses.
Finally on this passage, note that verses 19-20 teach that if someone has broken the Ninth Commandment, then whatever punishment would have happened to the person they falsely accused will happen to them. But it needs to be noted, before someone would be so punished, the claim that they made a false accusation would need to be proven with the same level of proof as the initial allegation. In other words, they would now be the defendant, with a presumption of innocence, and there would need to be two or three witnesses testifying that they are lying. And again, in today’s terms, one of those “witnesses” could be in the form of forensic evidence. But even with that caveat, this sadly is one aspect of the Mosaic Law that we today do not follow.
Today, it is a crime to file a false police report. Knowing that is probably one reason none of Kavanaugh’s accusers have done so, as it could set them up to have committed a crime. However, the punishment for filing a false police report is not near as severe as the punishment for serious crimes, like rape, though as noted, the punishment for what they are alleging Kavanaugh has done would not be that severe.
It is also a crime today to commit perjury, which is to say, to lie under oath. But at this point, neither Ford nor Ramirez have testified under oath. But again, if or when they do, the crime of perjury is not punished near as severely as a serious crime like rape, though again, what is alleged of Kavanaugh would not carry much of a penalty.
But that is only in regard to him going to prison. What has already happened to Kavanaugh is his reputation is ruined. No matter what happens at this point, he will forever be labeled as a “sexual predator” in the minds of many, no matter how much evidence might come out disproving that claim and no matter how overblown such a label would be.
The only recourse Kavanaugh would have in this regard would be to file a defamation lawsuit. That is unlikely, especially if he does get confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court. Also, as a public figure, it would be difficult to adjudicate. That is because the Supreme Court has given wide latitude to what can be said about public figures, due to the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of the press and of speech.
President Trump has railed about this, saying it should be easier to sue for libel or slander, as he has been falsely accused many times by the press and by others. He as been accused of being a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, and many other derogatory labels. None of those labels are true, as I detail on my politics website and will do so later in this book. But here I will say, every instance the press has used to pin him with one of these labels has been a lie or a misrepresentation of what he said or did. Democrats are now repeating these same lies and misrepresentations in their midterm election campaigns. But all the President can do is to deny their charges. But his denials do not get reported near as much as the claims. As a result, millions of people believe these things about the President, when in fact none are true.
That is why Trump has said he should be able to sue the news outlets making the false charges. But each time, they cry he is trying to suppress the freedom of the press. And the Supreme Court would probably agree with them. As such, he has little recourse.
And now, with Kavanaugh being a public figure, the same standard would be applied to him, and there is little he can do to get his reputation back, as none of those making allegations against him will ever be charged with a crime and prosecuted, making it possible to prove they have lied about him. Remember that when we get to Chapter Six. But here, we will continue with the exposition of relevant Bible passages.
13Who[ever] answers a word before [he] hears [it], it is folly and disgrace to him (Proverbs 18:13).
This dictate is being ignored by many in the Kavanaugh situation. People are saying, “I believe Ford” or “I believe Kavanaugh” before all of the evidence has been presented and even before either has testified. But to jump to either conclusion is a “folly and disgrace.”
17In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines (Proverbs 18:17; NIV).
I am quoting this verse from the New International Version, as the Greek text of the Septuagint this this writer’s ALT is based on is considerably different than the Hebrew text. But the NIV is based on the Hebrew, and it brings out that this verse is within the context of a trial. That said, this verse buttresses the previous one. You need to listen to both sides before making a decision on a legal matter. That is good advice in all situations, but especially so in a legal proceeding.
14So while he was staying there many days, Festus presented to the king the [things] concerning Paul, saying, “There is a certain man having been left by Felix [as] a prisoner, 15about whom, me having been [or, while I was] in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed [me], asking for punishment against him; 16to whom I answered that it is not a custom with Romans to be giving as a favor any person to destruction even before the one being accused may have [fig., may meet] the accusers face to face and may receive an opportunity for defense concerning the charge (Acts 25:14-16).
Here, Festus is talking to King Agrippa about the Apostle Paul, who has been held in prison for two years. In doing so, he relates Roman law not Biblical law. By doing so, he shows the two are similar. And it is on both Biblical and Roman law that our laws of jurisprudence are based.
Here, Festus says Roman “custom” is for someone to face his accusers and to have a chance to defend himself before he is convicted. Once again, underlying this custom is the idea of innocent until proven guilty. There is also the idea that that accuser must testify first, so that the defendant knows what he needs to defend himself against.
But one area where this custom will not to be followed in the forthcoming testimonies of Ford and Kavanaugh is the idea of a defendant being able to meet his “accusers face to face.” They will be testifying separately, despite claims on the part of Ford’s lawyer to the contrary. But that is often the case in sexual assault cases, especially when children are involved, due to the trauma it would cause the alleged victim.
19Stop receiving an accusation against an elder, unless on [the basis of] two or three witnesses. [see Deut 19:15] (1Timothy 5:19).
In this Pastoral Epistle, the Apostle Paul is giving directions on church government. Here, he quotes a verse from Deuteronomy that was quoted previously. In doing so, he is applying that standard of evidence to a church situation. This is important, as many are saying the rules of jurisprudence do not apply to the Kavanaugh proceedings, as they are not a court trial but a “job interview.” But here we see the basic ideas of the presumption of innocence and the need for allegations to have collaboration go beyond legal proceedings to other life situations. And what is needed in a church setting is certainly needed in an SJC hearing for a Supreme Court nominee.
The US Constitution
The US Constitution also has much to say about jurisprudence, especially in its Amendments. As I quote these passages, notice how they parallel the Biblical verses. That is because the basic tenets of the US Constitution are based on the Bible, even though the Constitution does not quote specific Bible verses.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This of course is the Preamble to the Constitution. Notice that one of the stated purposes of the Constitution is to “establish justice.”
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed (Article III, Section 2).
Here we have the guarantee of a jury trial within the state where the alleged crime is said to have occurred. Underlying the idea of a jury trial is the accused is innocent until proven guilty.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court (Article III, Section 3).
Here, the Founding Fathers were following the Bible in requiring two witnesses to establish the very serious charge of Treason. And note, those two witnesses must be “to the same overt Act” not to two different “Acts.” Again, Ramirez’s allegation is not a second “witness” to Ford’s allegation. They are two different “Acts” requiring two witnesses each, but no such supporting witnesses have come forth for either allegation. It must also be noted that Biblically, this level of proof is needed not just for serious crimes like Treason but for all allegations.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime (Article IV, Section 2).
There is no fleeing from the law. But important to our situation, the alleged crimes committed by Kavanaugh occurred in Maryland and Connecticut. Thus again, if Ford or Ramirez, respectively, were really concerned about justice, they should file a police report in the respective state where the alleged act occurred and which has the jurisdiction to investigate and try the case.
Amendment IV (1791)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It is doubtful any warrant could be issued based on the claims of Ford or Ramirez, as they do not provide sufficient “probable cause” for a warrant. This point will be important later.
Amendment V (1791)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Note the phrase “without due process of law.” This guarantee is then reaffirmed in Amendment XIV (1868). But it is denying such that people who are saying “Women are to be believed” or “I believe Ford” are doing with Kavanaugh. Now it is true this is not a court of law, and Kavanaugh is not currently in danger of being “deprived of life, liberty, or property.” But he would be if these allegations were to be taken to court. And again, his reputation is being ruined, which is also quite precious. Note also that the requirement for “due process of law” parallels the Bible’s requirement for “diligent inquiry” to be made on any allegation.
Amendment VI (1791)
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Again, a crime needs to be tried in the state in which the alleged crime occurred. That is why Ford and Ramirez need to file a police report in Maryland and Connecticut, respectively. Note also, the accused has the right to know the charges against him. That can only happen if the accuser testifies first; so again, Ford’s desire to testify last is absurd. The accused also has the right to hear all evidence against him and then to mount a defense. This all again is based on the presumption of innocence. It also echoes the words of Felix in the earlier Bible quote.
Amendment VII (1791)
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Note the sentence “the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.” This is so important, as it is during a trial that all the relevant facts are brought to light. Yet again, this right is being ignored in this case. People are prejudging it without hearing all of the evidence pro and con in a trial.
The point of all of these quotes from the Bible and the Constitution is the rule of law and right to due process used to be a unifying factor in America. But most people in the USA have long ago abandoned faith in the Bible, and now many are losing faith in the Constitution. That lack of faith in these two great documents is resulting in many Americans no longer believing in the rule of law and right to due process. That is leading to many prejudging this case before the involved parties even testify, and the resultant premature taking of sides is tearing the USA apart.
The sexual allegation hearing will be discussed in the next two chapters. Then in Chapter Seven, I will discuss the Swetnick allegation.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible verses from: Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible (ALT). Copyright © 1999-2018 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
All quotes from the US Constitution are from: Roosevelt, Franklin. 15 Documents and Speeches That Built America (Unique Classics) (Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Amendments, Articles of Confederation, Magna Carta, Gettysburg Address, Four Freedoms) (Kindle edition).
New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1984, 1987, 2011 by the International Bible Society www.ibs.org. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Bible, the US Constitution, and the Rule of Law. Copyright © 2019 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
Tearing the USA Apart
From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections, and Beyond
The United States of American is being torn about by political differences more than any time since the 1960s and maybe since the Civil War of the 1860s. This division was amplified by political events in the summer to fall of 2018. This time period could prove to be seminal in the history of the United States. This tearing apart came to the forefront and was amplified during the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This book overviews the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings in detail. It then overviews these additional major events that occurred up to the end of November 2018.
The above article was posted on this website January 1, 2019.
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