Yet Another Barton Distortion

Yet Another Barton Distortion February 26, 2015

David Barton is such a brazen liar that one has to wonder if he ever tells the truth about anything. If he said the sky is blue, one would be justified in doubting him given his track record. Here’s yet another distortion, this time about Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer:

“I was reading a Supreme Court case,” Barton said, “and in it, Justice Breyer — and no one is going to accuse Justice Breyer of being a religious individual, he’ll not be found guilty of that — and he makes the comment that ‘of course we all know that all of our due processes clauses in our Bill of Rights came out of the Bible.'”…

“There’s Breyer saying ‘of course we all know that the due process clauses came out of the Bible,'” Barton said. “We don’t know that today.”

Except Breyer didn’t say that at all. A single verse in the Bible is one of a number of sources listed that have mentioned the right to face one’s accuser — and that verse is talking about Roman law. The case was Lilly v Virginia and this is the relevant passage:

The Court’s effort to tie the Clause so directly to the hearsay rule is of fairly recent vintage, compare Roberts, supra, with California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 155—156 (1970), while the Confrontation Clause itself has ancient origins that predate the hearsay rule, see Salinger v. United States, 272 U.S. 542, 548 (1926) (“The right of confrontation did not originate with the provision in the Sixth Amendment, but was a common-law right having recognized exceptions”). The right of an accused to meet his accusers face-to-face is mentioned in, among other things, the Bible, Shakespeare, and 16th and 17th century British statutes, cases, and treatises. See The Bible, Acts 25:16; W. Shakespeare, Richard II, act i, sc. 1; W. Shakespeare, Henry VIII, act ii, sc. 1; 30 C. Wright & K. Graham, Federal Practice and Procedure §6342, p. 227 (1997) (quoting statutes enacted under King Edward VI in 1552 and Queen Elizabeth I in 1558); cf. Case of Thomas Tong, Kelyng J. 17, 18, 84 Eng. Rep. 1061, 1062 (1662) (out-of-court confession may be used against the confessor, but not against his co-conspirators); M. Hale, History of the Common Law of England 163—164 (C. Gray ed. 1971); 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *373. As traditionally understood, the right was designed to prevent, for example, the kind of abuse that permitted the Crown to convict Sir Walter Raleigh of treason on the basis of the out-of-court confession of Lord Cobham, a co-conspirator. See 30 Wright & Graham, supra, §6342, at 258—269.

So Breyer says here’s a list of historical sources that have mentioned the right to face one’s accuser, one of which was a Bible verse. And Barton distorts that into “of course we all know that all of our due processes clauses in our Bill of Rights came out of the Bible.” That isn’t even close to being an accurate paraphrase of what Breyer said. And here’s what that verse, Acts 25:16, actually says:

I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges.

It’s talking about Roman law, not any Biblical principle. As almost always, Barton is just plain lying his ass off, safe in the knowledge that none of his followers will nor or care.

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