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Dan Freeman

The Sixth Amendment states “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, …” in common parlance, an impartial jury consists of the equals or peers of the defendant. This right is critical to our system of ascertaining facts in a criminal proceeding.

Dan Freeman

While the phrase church and state does not appear in the Constution, the No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is a clause within Article VI, Clause 3. By its plain terms, no federal officeholder or employee can be required to adhere to or accept any particular religion or doctrine as a prerequisite to holding a federal office or a federal government job. This is extended by the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion and Establishment clauses. These form the basis for our guaranteeing that church and state remain separate in the United States

Carlos Ponce

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" - no National religion such as the Church of England.

"or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" - any elected official may exercise his or her religion. That is the reason why presidents take the oath of office on a religious book and add the phrase "so help me God". Atheist Michael Newdow filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Chief Justice John Roberts from reciting “So help me God” while administering the oath to Obama. The Supreme Court rejected the case. Obama said it. Some debate whether George Washington said it but it is recorded in his biography by Washington Irving.

The phrase "So Help me God" does appear a part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as the oath taken by Supreme Court and District judges: "SEC . 8. And be it further enacted, That the justices of the Supreme Court, and the district judges, before they proceed to execute the duties of their respective offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation, to wit: 'I, A. B., do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me as , according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the constitution, and laws of the United States. So help me God.' "

But judicial clerks can say "So Help Me God" or omit it "where an affirmation is admitted instead of an oath". Section 7.

And it is part of the US Marshall's oath of office found in Section 27: "I, A. B., do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will faithfully execute all lawful precepts directed to the marshal of the district of ******************* under the authority of the United States, and true returns make, and in all things well and truly, and without malice or partiality, perform the duties of the office of marshal (or marshall’s deputy, as the case may be) of the district of , during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees. So help me God."


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