ICC Note: An Oklahoma judge has officially dismissed a lawsuit filed by American Atheists on behalf of a woman who complained about the presence of a monument featuring the Ten Commandments in the Oklahoma capitol building. The woman traveled to the location specifically for the purpose of viewing the monument so that she could justifiably say that she had taken offense. The ACLU also legally challenged the monument in 2013, questioning its constitutionality.
By Heather Clark
03/16/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – A federal judge in Oklahoma has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a prominent atheist organization that sought to challenge the presence of a Ten Commandments monument in the state capital.
American Atheists, based in New Jersey, had filed the legal challenge on behalf of a woman who complained about its installment on the grounds of the Oklahoma capitol building. The State Capitol Preservation Commission argued that the woman had only seen the monument once and had traveled to the area just to see the display and take offense.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron, appointed to the bench by then-President George H.W. Bush, agreed with the commission. It ruled that the woman lacked standing to sue as she had not proven that she suffers personal injury from the display’s presence.
This is not the first time that the monument has been challenged in court. As previously reported, in August 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma filed suit against the display, asserting that its erection on the grounds of the state capitol building was unconstitutional.
The lead plaintiff was liberal minister Bruce Prescott, the director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. Prescott said that mixing the sacred with the secular in such a manner cheapens the display, and asserted that it violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
In the meantime, a New York-based Satanist group sought to erect an “homage to Satan” near the monument, and other groups chimed in to seek permission to place statues at the location as well.