Ten Commandments display will get high court review

BY JAMES S. TYREE Published: February 13, 2010
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NORMAN — The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled next week to consider the case involving a Ten Commandments monument on Haskell County Courthouse property in Stigler, but the legal discussion got a head start Friday at the University of Oklahoma.

Political science professor emeritus Peter Irons, of the University of California at San Diego, and law professor Thomas Berg, of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, discussed legal opinions on the separation of church and state during "Signs of the Times: The First Amendment and Religious Freedom.” A panel discussion followed.

"The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the petition at its conference on Feb. 19,” Irons wrote of Green v. Haskell County in his outline, "with the outcome hard to predict.”

The monument with the Ten Commandments was erected in 2004 outside the Haskell County Courthouse. Haskell County resident James Green and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit the next year to remove it, claiming the monument violated the First Amendment separation of church and state.

Irons said the monument is unconstitutional because the Ten Commandments are a religious text, and posting them on public property is a governmental endorsement of religion.

Legal confusion arose in 2005, Irons said, when the Supreme Court rendered different rulings in companion cases.

Leaders in McCreary County, Ky., posted the Ten Commandments on a courthouse wall and later included other documents such as the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta to uphold its legality. Politics coverage page