10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Bible law ruling

ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ Modified: June 9, 2009 at 12:06 am •  Published: June 9, 2009
DENVER — An appeals court ruled Monday a Ten Commandments monument on the Haskell County Courthouse lawn in Stigler violates the Constitution because its primary effect is to endorse religion.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 against the 8-foot-tall monument in a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and a Haskell County resident who said it offended him.

The ACLU said the decision means "the county cannot continue to display it on the courthouse lawn. That said, nothing prevents any individual, group, or congregation from publicly displaying the same monument on their own property — and we would defend their right to do so.”

An attorney for the commissioners said the judges erred "for many reasons” in Monday’s decision, and he cited Supreme Court decisions in similar cases to support his conclusion. Attorney Kevin Theriot said he is recommending to the commissioners that they ask all 12 judges of the court to reconsider the decision of the three-judge panel.

Monument endorses religion, judges say
The monument was erected in 2004.

The Haskell County commissioners’ authorization of the monument "had the impermissible principal or primary effect of endorsing religion in violation of the Establishment Clause” of the Constitution, the judges wrote in a 52-page decision.


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