Sorry, that’s just a line from a song in what’s probably my favorite movie of all time (“Singin in the Rain”).
The issue keeps being raised that “the Ten Commandments are on the U.S. Supreme Court building, so why can’t they be placed in the Alabama Supreme Court building?“, in Chief Justice Moore’s column, and in Jeff Brokaw’s comments below. Andrew Case answered in the same comments, and I thought I’d add a little detail:
This sculpture is a frieze located above the East (back) entrance to the Supreme Court building. Moses (holding blank tablets) is depicted as one of trio of three Eastern law givers (Confucius, Solon, and Moses). The trio is surrounded by a variety of allegorical figures representing legal themes. The artist, Herman MacNeil, described his intentions in creating the sculpture as follows:
Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The “Eastern Pediment” of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East. Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment (Descriptions of the Friezes in the Courtroom of the Supreme Court of the United States and of the East and West Pediments of the Building Exterior, p. 9).
The Courtroom friezes were designed by sculptor Adolph Weinman. These friezes are located well above the courtroom bench, on all four walls. The South and North wall friezes form a group that depicts a procession of 18 important lawgivers: Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius, Augustus, Justinian, Mohammed, Charlemagne, King John, St. Louis, Hugo Grotius, William Blackstone, John Marshall, and Napoleon. Moses is holding blank tablets. The Moses figure is no larger or more important than any other lawgiver. Again, there is nothing here to suggest and special connection between the 10 Commandments and American law.
The Curator’s office makes the following comments on Weinman’s North and South frieze sculptures:
Weinman’s training emphasized a correlation between the sculptural subject and the function of the building and, because of this, Gilbert relied on him to choose the subjects and figures that best reflected the function of the Supreme Court building. Faithful to classical sources, Weinman designed for the Courtroom friezes a procession of “great lawgivers of history,” from many civilizations, to portray the development of secular law (p. 2, emphasis ours).
Look, Western Civilization isn’t called ‘Judeo-Christian’ for nothing. Our culture has deep roots in Christianity (and Judaism), and we’re better off for it. We’d certainly be far different without those roots, and we can’t and shouldn’t repudiate of them.
But the strongest trees aren’t defined by their roots; it is the branches and leaves, growing and reaching outward. (submitted to the Bad Analogy Hall of Fame)