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

bullet A 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.
bullet A 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.

bullet One conflict is over the location of the displays:
bullet The 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.
bullet They 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:

bullet The 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.
bullet The 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:

bullet Introduction: The issue, recent court decisions, public opinion, reactions, future reversals
bullet The Kentucky case (McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky) Background of the court and school displays
bullet The Texas case (Van Orden v. Perry) Background of the religious monument
bullet Oral arguments on 2005-MAR-03
bullet Court 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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