The following piece is taken from an article, The Bible in American History, American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. 3 - January 1878 - No.9:
In courts of justice a Protestant Bible is almost always used for putting the oath to witnesses. To make the insult to Catholics the greater a black cross is generally made on one side, and this side tendered to any one known or suspected to be a Catholic. In many States any one can at his option swear with the uplifted hand in the presence of the ever-living God, and this Catholics should generally adopt. Sometimes, however, the bench will be filled by one, as overbearing as ignorant, who will insist on a Catholic's swearing on the parody [i.e. a Protestant Bible society translation] lying
on the desk. Such a case occurred a few years ago, in Boston, where a Catholic witness was committed for contempt of court by a judge who probably was ignorant of the fact that the early New England settlers carefully avoided swearing on the Bible as a superstition and swore "by the great and dreadful name of the ever-living God," kissing and touching no book, not even their prized Geneva Bible.
The Catholic stood exactly on the practice of the early Puritans, and the judge who condemned him committed himself more completely than he did the American citizen whose rights he invaded.