Monday, June 27, 2005

No 10 commandments in courthouses! Unless you water it down.

Politics: Try to make it as "secular" and non-offensive as possible, this seems like a chicken-bleep ruling since they put so much wiggle room in it. But at least their display is cool.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A split Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, ruling that two exhibits in Kentucky cross the line between separation of church and state because they promote a religious message. The 5-4 decision was the first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion's place in public life. In it, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property. Justices left legal wiggle room, saying that some displays - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history. But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. "The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority. "When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates tha central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality," he said. Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc - Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor, who provided the swing vote.
Update# Yep this is a cowardly ruling. Basically you can have the 10 commandents in the court as long as you dress it up and now on government property which on the face of it looks goofy while banning it in courthouses. What is the requirements to make it less a religious display and more a legal display? On the face of it, it looks easy to get around the banning.
Texas Commandments Ruling In its second ruling Monday on displays of the Ten Commandments, the Supreme Court has ruled that displays of the Commandments are allowed on government land. The justices found that a 6 foot granite monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol does not cross the line between church and state. Opponents challenging the monument on the Texas Capitol grounds and Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky courthouses said they are an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. In 2003, Roy Moore was removed from office as Alabama's chief justice when he refused to obey a federal judge's order to remove a a Ten Commandments monument from the foyer of the Alabama Judicial Building. Defenders responded that such displays, including engravings in the Supreme Court's own building, don't establish religion but merely acknowledge the nation's legal heritage. The justices' ruling could affect thousands of Ten Commandments monuments and displays nationwide.

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