ICC Note: A legal victory for Christian groups has been won in Oklahoma, where a district court found that a display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol building was constitutional. The memorial became a focus of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has worked to remove religious symbols from public grounds. A Satanist organization also submitted a proposal to place their own monument on capitol grounds. The district courts ruling is in line with rulings in other U.S. states and upholds the right to display the Ten Commandments thanks to the historical role they have played in the shaping of the nation.
9/23/2014 United States (Christian News) – A district judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a Ten Commandments monument challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a liberal Baptist minister does not violate the United States Constitution and may remain in place on the grounds of the state capitol.
In granting a motion for summary judgment by the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, Judge Thomas Prince concluded that the monument served a historical purpose and not solely the presentment of a religious message as it sits on a plot of land that contains 51 other expressive monuments.
“Today’s ruling is a clear message that the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public grounds like the Oklahoma Capitol because of the historical role the text has played in the founding of our nation,” said Attorney General Scott Pruitt. “The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional a nearly identical monument in Texas. We were confident in the state’s case from the start and appreciate the court’s thoughtful consideration and ruling in the state’s favor.”
As previously reported, the monument was proposed by Rep. Mike Ritze in 2009, and was soon after approved by the largely Republican-run state legislature. Ritze paid over $1000 for the display, and no taxpayer funds were utilized in its creation.
“[T]he Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma,” the bill authorizing the monument acknowledged. “[T]he courts of the United States of America and of various states frequently cite the Ten Commandments in published decisions, and acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America.”
The six-foot display was erected three years later, but the ACLU asserted that the monument was unconstitutional.
“The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” stated Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma, in a news release. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.”