ACLU challenges Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma capitol

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Oklahoma (ACLU-OK) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in the Oklahoma County District Court seeking the removal [petition for relief, PDF] of a Ten Commandments monument placed prominently in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The ACLU cites [press release] the constitutional prohibition on using state property to support particular religions or sects in support of its petition. The ACLU also argues that the government has trivialized a "deeply sacred" text to Jewish and Christian believers by placing it in a political and secular context. The six foot tall, $10,000 monument was financed [AP report] by Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze [official profile] and his family in 2009.

Ten Commandments displays have been the subject of legal controversy in recent years. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] last August ordered a lower court to reconsider [JURIST report] its decision ordering Florida's Dixie County Courthouse to remove a Ten Commandments monument from its front steps. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] in February 2011 upheld a lower court ruling barring the Ten Commandments [JURIST report] from being displayed in an Ohio courthouse. The Sixth Circuit in June 2010 upheld an injunction against similar displays [JURIST report] in two Kentucky courthouses. A month earlier, the same court denied an en banc rehearing in another case [opinion, PDF] involving the display of the Ten Commandments in a Grayson County, Kentucky, courthouse. The court found the display to be constitutional because it presented a valid secular purpose from the outset. In a 2005 decision, the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of a Ten Commandments display [JURIST report] in a Mercer County, Kentucky, courthouse.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.