Localities, save on legal bills: Don’t post the Ten Commandments

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Here we go again. In a familiar legal skirmish, a judge has once again told a local government that it has to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public grounds because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Senior District Judge Maurice Paul ordered Dixie County, Fla., officials to remove the monument from the grounds of the courthouse in Cross City.

Dixie County officials apparently believed the monument was permissible because it was built and paid for by a private citizen. According to the Associated Press, Judge Paul responded that “despite the actual ownership of the monument, the location and permanent nature of the display make it clear to all reasonable observers that Dixie County chooses to be associated with the message being conveyed.”

It’s surprising that these legal battles still occur with such frequency. The law is clear: Governments cannot post the tenets of a religion. And yet town councils and school boards across the country have decided to run up legal bills anyway.

If public officials are keen on erecting monuments to important values, they would do well to check out www.mybillofrights.org. This organization is committed to installation of Bill of Rights displays in public spaces across the country. Saluting the Bill of Rights doesn’t violate the separation of church and state; in fact, it celebrates it.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the nature of the First Amendment violation.

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