JAMESTOWN - Attorney Daryl Brautigam of Fredonia presented a replica of the Harlan Bible to Chautauqua County Judge John Ward recently before an audience of Chautauqua County attorneys meeting for continuing education at the Robert H. Jackson Center. Jackson, a Jamestown native, who after serving as the prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, following World War II, served with distinction as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
According to Brautigam, the commemorative Harlan Bibles are being distributed to courts throughout the United States to preserve a tradition begun more than 100 years ago by the Supreme Court of the United States when one of the more admired justice, John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) I donated a bible to the Court. In response to Harlan's gift at the time, each Justice signed the flyleaf of that bible. Since then, every Supreme Court Justice has signed what is now known as the Harlan Bible.
The American Judicial Alliance (AJA), a national organization headquartered in Louisiana, is working to dedicate and distribute replicas of the Harlan Bible to courts in the United States. The AJA and its related organization, Retired Judges of America (RJA) are led by Retired Judge Darrell White and Jason Stern. Both men share a vision for "reawakening in the conscience of One Nation under God" and for highlighting the link between the Bible and America's Constitution and laws.
From left, are James C. Johnson, President, Robert H. Jackson Center and former International War Crimes prosecutor; John T. Ward, Chautauqua County Judge; and attorney Daryl Brautigam, Award presenter.
The Honorable John Ward accepted the Bible on behalf of Chautauqua County Court. "On behalf of our County Court," Ward said. "I accept this replica of the Harlan Bible and I will sign the flyleaf and encourage all succeeding County Court judges to do likewise in the same way that the U. S. Supreme Court Justices sign the original Bible today."
Present members of the U.S. Supreme Court have acknowledged the importance of the Harlan Bible tradition. Justice Samuel Alito wrote what a "thrilling and awe-inspiring moment" it was when I signed my name alongside all the justices for the past 100 years. Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged that taking her Judicial Oath on the Harlan Bible was among the "most symbolically meaningful" activities of her investiture. Former Justice David Souter has said that signing the Harlan Bible was the "most humbling thing he ever did."
The Harlan Bible is maintained by the Supreme Court Curator. After each new Justice receives the oath of office, the Harland Bible is offered to the Justice to sign. So far, none of the more than 60 justices since 1906 have declined the invitation to sign the flyleaf, so the tradition endures to the present.
Justice Harlan served for 33 years on the Supreme Court, the longest serving justice. Named for former Justice John Marshall and born to a family who owned household slaves, as a Supreme Court Justice, Harlan stood against segregation. His decisions earned him the nickname of the "Great Dissenter." One of his grandsons, John Marshall Harlan II, followed him to the Supreme Court.