South Carolina General Assembly
117th Session, 2007-2008

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Bill 3159

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Indicates New Matter

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)


March 21, 2007

H. 3159

Introduced by Reps. Toole, Umphlett, Littlejohn, Huggins, Sandifer and Viers

S. Printed 3/21/07--H.

Read the first time January 9, 2007.



To whom was referred a Bill (H. 3159) to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 10-1-210 so as to provide that religious references to god, a deity, etc., respectfully


That they have duly and carefully considered the same and recommend that the same do pass with amendment:

Amend the bill, as and if amended, by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting:

/    SECTION 1.    The General Assembly finds:

(1)    the General Assembly has directed the Department of Archives and History of the State to encourage the study of historical documents;

(2)    there is a need to educate and inform the public about the history and background of American law;

(3)    the public buildings of this State and its political subdivisions are ideal forums to display educational and informational material regarding the history and background of American law; and

(4)    a basic knowledge of American constitutional history is important to the formation of civic virtue in our society.

SECTION 2.    Chapter 1, Title 10 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 10-1-168.    (A)    Notwithstanding another provision of law, each municipality, county, or other political subdivision of this State including, but not limited to, school boards are authorized to post the Foundations of American Law and Government display, as described in this section, in a visible, public location in the public buildings of this State and its political subdivisions.

(B)    The Foundations of American Law and Government display must include:

(1)    The Ten Commandments as extracted from Exodus Chapter 20;

(2)    The Magna Carta;

(3)    The Mayflower Compact, 1620;

(4)    The Declaration of Independence;

(5)    The Preamble to the United States Constitution;

(6)    The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution;

(7)    'The Star-Spangled Banner' by Francis Scott Key;

(8)    The Pledge of Allegiance;

(9)    The Pledge to the South Carolina Flag;

(10)    The Preamble to the South Carolina Constitution;

(11)    The national motto 'In God We Trust'; and

(12)    Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech.

(C)    Public representations of the Foundations of American Law and Government display may contain appropriate information together with a context for acknowledging the formative, historically significant documents in America's heritage as contained in subsection (B). The Department of Archives and History shall determine the appropriate information to include along with the display but shall at a minimum include the following information about each document:

(1)    The Ten Commandments have profoundly influenced the formation of Western legal thought and the formation of our country. That influence is clearly seen in the Declaration of Independence, which declared that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness'. The Ten Commandments provide the moral background of the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of our legal tradition;

(2)    In 1215, King John of England consented to the demands of his barons and agreed for The Magna Carta to be publicly read throughout the land. By this act he bound himself and 'our heirs, in all things and all places for ever' to grant to the people of his kingdom the rights pronounced in The Magna Carta. By signing The Magna Carta, King John brought himself and England's future rulers within the rule of law. The rule of law places a restraint on the exercise of arbitrary government power, and it places all people and civil government under law. The American patriots, therefore, waged war against England to preserve liberties originating in Thirteenth Century England. A distinction, however, is noted between The Magna Carta and the American concept of liberty. While The Magna Carta is a guarantee from a king that he will follow the law, the Constitution of the United States is the establishment of a government consisting of, and created for, 'We the People';

(3)    The Mayflower Compact was penned by William Bradford on November 11, 1620, on the Mayflower before the Pilgrims made landfall at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Compact was the first written constitution in the New World. William Bradford described the reasoning behind the Compact when he stated in the Compact: 'This day, before we came to harbour, observing some not well affected to unity and concord, but gave some appearance of faction, it was thought good there should be an association and agreement, that we should combine together in one body, and to submit to such government and governors as we should by common consent agree to make and choose, and set our hands to this that follows, word for word';

(4)    Perhaps the single most important document in American history, The Declaration of Independence was, as Abraham Lincoln stated, the 'frame' into which the Framers placed the Constitution. The Declaration's fundamental premise is that one's right to 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness' is not a gift of government. Government is not a giver of rights, but a protector of God-given rights. Moreover, government is a creation of 'the governed' and derives all its power from the consent of its people. As the Preamble to the United States Constitution states, 'We the People' are the government;

(5)    During the debates on the adoption of the United States Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a 'bill of rights' that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered. The Bill of Rights is still a vital and powerful force in American government, shaping our laws and serving as a check on the exercise of government power;

(6)    Guarding the entrance to Baltimore harbor via the Patapsco River during the War of 1812, Fort McHenry faced almost certain attack by British forces. Major George Armistead, the stronghold's commander, was ready to defend the fort but he wanted a flag that would identify his position, one whose size would be visible to the enemy from a distance. The flag that was made for the fort was thirty feet by forty-two feet. Anxiously awaiting news of the battle's outcome was a Washington, D.C., lawyer named Francis Scott Key. Key had visited the enemy's fleet to secure the release of a Maryland doctor who had been abducted by the British after they left Washington. The lawyer had been successful in his mission, but he could not escort the doctor home until the attack ended. So he waited on a flag-of-truce sloop anchored eight miles downstream from Fort McHenry.

During the night, there had been only occasional sounds of the fort's guns returning fire. At dawn, the British bombardment tapered off. Had the fort been captured? Placing a telescope to his eye, Key trained it on the fort's flagpole. There he saw the large garrison flag catch the morning breeze. It had been raised as a gesture of defiance, replacing the wet storm flag that had flown through the night. Thrilled by the sight of the flag and the knowledge that the fort had not fallen, Key took a letter from his pocket and began to write some verses on the back of it. Later, after the British fleet had withdrawn, Key checked into a Baltimore hotel and completed his poem on the defense of Fort McHenry. He then sent it to a printer for duplication on handbills, and within a few days the poem was put to the music of an old English song. Both the new song and the flag became known as 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and became a rallying cry for the American Patriots during the rest of the war; and

(7)    The Preamble to the South Carolina Constitution celebrates the ideas of free government, justice, peace, happiness, and liberty. Government is a creation of 'the governed' and derives all its power from the consent of its people. The people, therefore, desiring a civilized society, created and ordained the Constitution of the State of South Carolina.

(D)    All documents which are included in a Foundations of American Law and Government display must be posted on paper not less than eleven by fourteen inches in dimension and must be framed in identically-styled frames. One document may not be displayed more prominently than another.

(E)    State funding may not be used for a Foundations of American Law and Government display."

SECTION 3.    This act takes effect upon approval of the Governor. /

Renumber sections to conform.

Amend title to conform.

JAMES H. HARRISON for Committee.




Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Chapter 1, Title 10 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 10-1-210.    Religious references to God, a deity, or a higher power of any denomination or religion may be used in approved displays, monuments, plaques, or similar fixtures in state or local public areas, buildings, or places."

SECTION    2.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.


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