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MENU:

 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

YEAR 2005 APPEALS TO THE SUPREME COURT
CASES FROM KENTUCKY & TEXAS

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The Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capital:

The heading reads: "The Ten Commandments. I AM THE LORD THY GOD" The capital building is in the background.

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Overview:

On 2005-MAR-02. the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two cases involving the Ten Commandments (a.k.a. Decalogue).

bulletA case from Kentucky involves displays of the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments along with many other documents referring to Judeo-Christian beliefs, and a few secular documents. The displays were erected in court houses and public schools. No documents referring to other religions were included. Although some secular documents were included, the emphasis is overwhelmingly religious.
bulletA case from Texas involves a six-foot tall monument containing the Ten Commandments, and Judeo-Christian religious symbols. No secular material or documents from other religious were included.

At question is not whether the displays are improper in some way.

bulletOne conflict is over the location of the displays:
bulletThe Ten Commandments can be freely displayed on private land. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, including freedom to display the Ten Commandments on one's own land.
bulletThey can sometimes be displayed on public land -- in courthouses, schools, government buildings, parks, etc. But in such locations, both the purpose of the display and the context of the display determines whether it is constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2005-JUN-27 that:

bulletThe Kentucky displays were unconstitutional because its purpose was clearly the promotion of religion. They violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Separation of Church and State derived from that clause.
bulletThe Texas display was constitutional because its context was secular.

Both rulings were as a result of a 5:4 vote.

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletIntroduction: The issue, recent court decisions, public opinion, reactions, future reversals
 
bulletThe Kentucky case (McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky) Background of the court and school displays
 
bulletThe Texas case (Van Orden v. Perry) Background of the religious monument
 
bulletOral arguments on 2005-MAR-03
 
bulletCourt ruling on 2005-JUN-27

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious LawsTen Commandments > here

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Copyright 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAR-02
Latest update: 2005-MAR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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