This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
Pointing out that the U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled that displays across America of the Ten Commandments can be legal, lawyers for First Liberty Institute and the Arkansas attorney general’s office have asked a federal court to toss a complaint about one such monument in that state.
“The Supreme Court already settled this debate – displays that are part of the history and tradition of America, like the Ten Commandments, are presumed to be constitutional,” explained Lea Patterson, counsel at First Liberty.
“Displaying the Ten Commandments – a symbol of law and moral conduct with both religious and secular significance – is a longstanding national tradition as a matter of law. The court should summarily reject these anti-religion activist organizations’ unfounded lawsuits.”
The display at issue, on the grounds of the Arkansas state capitol, had been challenged by a list of activist organizations including the Satanic Temple, Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, and the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
The monument was authorized by the state legislature several years ago.
“Less than 24 hours after it was erected in 2017, the privately-donated monument was destroyed when a man ran over it with his pickup truck. The replacement monument was placed in 2018,” First Liberty explained.
The legal team explained, “Despite Supreme Court opinions concluding that similar Ten Commandments displays are constitutional, several individuals and groups sued. But as Justice Breyer observed in his concurring opinion in Van Orden v. Perry, which found a nearly identical Texas monument constitutional, the monument ‘communicates to visitors that the state sought to reflect moral principles, illustrating a relation between ethics and law that the state’s citizens, historically speaking, have endorsed.'”
More recently, a Supreme Court decision pointed out that the Ten Commandments “have historical significance as one of the foundations of our legal system.”
The brief seeking that the case be thrown out explains, “The Establishment Clause doesn’t require blotting religion out of the public square. Displays like the Ten Commandments monument represent our history and traditions and are perfectly constitutional.”
In the court filing, it is explained that the plaintiffs’ case fails because “their purported injuries are entirely self-inflicted and rest on discarded legal theories.”
And on the merits, they fail to show the Ten Commandments monument violates the Constitution, the court was told. “To the contrary, under American Legion v. American Humanist Association … the challenged monument survives because it fits within the longstanding tradition of displaying such monuments.”
The brief points out that the Satanic Temple’s claims are “no better.”
“Their equal-protection claim fails from the get-go because they made no serious effort to locate a sponsor for legislation that would place their ‘Baphomet with Children’ monument on the Capitol grounds. Indeed, far from attempting to state a valid claim, TST’s intervention claims are an attempt to diminish or deter speech with religious significance.”
The filing points out that there are other references to religion on the Capitol grounds, including a quotation from the Old Testament, the words “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “To God be the glory” on a monument honoring the African-American students who enrolled in Little Rock’s Central High in 1957.
Inside the Capitol, there are hundreds of displays, including a mural referencing “Religion” and much more.
The “plaintiffs do not – and cannot – claim that the Ten Commandments monument falls outside of the longstanding tradition of publicly recognizing our nation’s religious and moral heritage,” the filing said.