Would a SCOTUS review of Okla. Ten Commandments clarify or further confuse?

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Feb 17, 2010 2 Comments ›› Ben DuPré

Would a SCOTUS review of Okla. Ten Commandments clarify or further confuse?

This Friday the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether it will review (http://newsok NULL.com/ten-commandments-display-will-get-high-court-review/article/3439338) the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument erected at the Haskell County, Okla. (http://www NULL.okgenweb NULL.org/~okhaskel/) Courthouse.  A federal district court, in a rather entertaining opinion (http://morallaw NULL.org/blog/?p=26), upheld the monument in 2006 against an attack by the ACLU.  But last year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed (http://morallaw NULL.org/blog/?p=806) because the Court said the monument “had the impermissible principal or primary effect of endorsing religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

This result was particularly disappointing to the Foundation for Moral Law because we filed an amicus brief (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.org/PDF/Green%20v NULL.%20Haskell%20County%20Board%20of%20Commissioners,%20amicus%20curiae%20brief,%20Foundation%20for%20Moral%20Law,%2004 NULL.03 NULL.07 NULL.doc NULL.pdf) with the appeals court explaining that the Ten Commandments monument was constitutional under the original meaning of the Establishment Clause.  Thankfully, Haskell County continued to stand by its monument and is asking the High Court to hear the case.

But didn’t the Supreme Court already decide the Ten Commandments issue? The answer is something like this: Yes, twice, but only for those two cases.

Five years ago the Supreme Court ruled on two Ten Commandments cases, McCreary County and Van Orden, yielding two different results. In McCreary (http://www NULL.law NULL.cornell NULL.edu/supct/html/03-1693 NULL.ZO NULL.html), the Court held that a Kentucky county violated the Constitution because it initially (and recently) put the Ten Commandments up alone to acknowledge God, and despite later displays that surrounded the Commandments with other documents, the county’s display was impermissible. Simultaneously, the Court ruled in Van Orden (http://www NULL.law NULL.cornell NULL.edu/supct/html/03-1500 NULL.ZS NULL.html) that the Texas Capitol could keep a monument of the Ten Commandments on its lawn because it had been around for 40+ years and was surrounded by 17 other monuments on the capital lawn that comprised an acceptable “museum setting.”

Like most rulings by the Court on the Establishment Clause, these opinions did not actually clarify the meaning of the law, they only provided two competing fact patterns into which the Haskell Counties of the world try to fit themselves. An analytical tug-of-war ensues.  The ACLU tries to portray the new Ten Commandments display as just another “unconstitutional” McCreary county display, while the government entity and their attorneys (usually our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund or the like) try to pull the display into the “constitutional” Van Orden example.  Those with the most Van Orden-like qualities win . . . until another judge looks at the same facts.

The first problem with Establishment Clause cases rendered today, therefore, is not that the courts are getting the law wrong; it’s that they’re not even looking at the law.  We certainly hope the Court takes the Haskell County case and reverses the wrong decision of the 10th Circuit.  Most likely we will file a brief telling the Court to uphold the monument, too.

But more important than hearing the case is that the Supreme Court turn back to the “supreme law of the land”—the Constitution—as the objective guide for Ten Commandment display cases. Otherwise, reviewing this case will simply triangulate the legal tug-0f-war and add “the Haskell County case” to the muddled mix.

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  1. James E. Reeves says:

    The ACLU is making a mockery of the SCOTUS and their actions are costly to citizens. These lawyers are trained to strain at those gnats because commerce is paid out of the government treasury.
    When the issue of original intent is considered by researching the “Founding Fathers” letters, books, articles, opinions, and the constitution, a conclusion must give the “Ten Commandments” the right of display.
    Should any action be taken against the ACLU they would cry foul, foul, foul, because the Church is separate. So ask, but why is the Christian religion exempt? See the original intent to allow and even promote freedoms to have joy, peace, benevolence, gentleness, kindness, meekness, love. Gal.5;22. The founders knew commerce would flourish under the conditions set forth by the Commandments.
    But I’m not a smart man I just read smart things. What do you think?

  2. Linda Templet says:

    Please read this–Are Charters an inheritance that is to be forever recognized. Do these Charters from the beginning have any weight whatsoever in our world today or are they just meaningless? To me, this shows the purpose for King James granting people to come to America to form a Christian Providence with christians runing the government. He wanted a country that would be a heavenly atmosphere. This is what I see through all the early charters. The early constitutions of the 13 colonies state that any person handling government affairs had to be of the Protestant Christian Religion. How can we break this law. We lack education.

    Can we see how very important it is to have men and women of faith running our country. Just look at the corruption in our government today. We must go back to the beginning. These peoples desire to propgate the Christian Religion is what King James granted. Our Supreme Court Justices need to see these Charters in order to understand the establishment clause. When will their eyes get opened to the truth?

    The First Charter of Virginia; April 10, 1606

    JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. WHEREAS our loving and well-disposed Subjects, Sir Thorn as Gales, and Sir George Somers, Knights, Richard Hackluit, Clerk, Prebendary of Westminster, and Edward-Maria Wingfield, Thomas Hanharm and Ralegh Gilbert, Esqrs. William Parker, and George Popham, Gentlemen, and divers others of our loving Subjects, have been humble Suitors unto us, that We would vouchsafe unto them our Licence, to make Habitation, Plantation, and to deduce a colony of sundry of our People into that part of America commonly called VIRGINIA, and other parts and Territories in America, either appertaining unto us, or which are not now actually possessed by any Christian Prince or People, situate, lying, and being all along the Sea Coasts, between four and thirty Degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctial Line, and five and forty Degrees of the same Latitude, and in the main Land between the same four and thirty and five and forty Degrees, and the Islands “hereunto adjacent, or within one hundred Miles of the Coast thereof;
    And to that End, and for the more speedy Accomplishment of their said intended Plantation and Habitation there, are desirous to divide themselves into two several Colonies and Companies; the one consisting of certain Knights, Gentlemen, Merchants, and other Adventurers, of our City of London and elsewhere, which are, and from time to time shall be, joined unto them, which do desire to begin their Plantation and Habitation in some fit and convenient Place, between four and thirty and one and forty Degrees of the said Latitude, alongst the Coasts of Virginia, and the Coasts of America aforesaid: And the other consisting of sundry Knights, Gentlemen, Merchants, and other Adventurers, of our Cities of Bristol and Exeter, and of our Town of Plimouth, and of other Places, which do join themselves unto that Colony, which do desire to begin their Plantation and Habitation in some fit and convenient Place, between eight and thirty Degrees and five and forty Degrees of the said Latitude, all alongst the said Coasts of Virginia and America, as that Coast lyeth:

    We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government: DO, by these our Letters Patents, graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires;

    (America was intended to be a Christian Nation with a divine Providence) All of the representatives of this United States of America need to see this 1st Charter of Virginia. Our forefathers forever inherited America to propagate Christianity throughout this land. We need to get the truth known throughout our land. People are not educated as to how our government was form and for what purpose.

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