Quantcast
About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
.
CHRISTIANITY
Who is a Christian?
Shared beliefs
Handle change
Bible topics
Bible inerrancy
Bible harmony
Interpret Bible
Persons
Beliefs, creeds
Da Vinci code
Revelation, 666
Denominations
.
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Other spirituality
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handle change
Doubt/security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
World's end
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality/ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandm'ts
Abortion
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment
Equal rights - gays & bi's
Gay marriage
Nudism
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

 THE YEAR 2005 TEN COMMANDMENTS CASES BEFORE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, FROM KENTUCKY AND TEXAS

The Kentucky case

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

The background of the Kentucky case:

McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky (03-1693): Officials in McCreary, Pulaski and Harlan counties in Kentucky had placed framed donated copies of the the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments from the King James Version of the Bible in the halls of two county courthouses and some school buildings. Each "...initially consisted of 'framed copies of one version of the Ten Commandments which were not part of larger educational, historical or retrospective exhibits'." 1 That is, the Decalogue was originally hung by itself, without any surrounding documents representing concepts from other religions or from secular sources. After a lawsuit was filed, the officials modified the displays to include many documents with a Judeo-Christian religious theme, and a few secular documents. The modified displays remained overwhelmingly religious in content.

Most court decisions involving cultural displays which include documents from both multiple religions and secular sources have found them to be constitutional. However, this is an unusual case, because the only religious tradition portrayed is Judeo-Christianity, and because of its strongly religious emphasis. Presumably, if texts from multiple religions and more secular sources had been included, the lower courts would have found the displays to be constitutional. But with only one religious tradition displayed, and with its stress on religion, its constitutionality is in doubt. The display implies government approval of Judaism and Christianity as the only valid religion, the rejection of other religions, and the relative unimportance of secular sources of law.

horizontal rule

The initial trial:

The route to the U.S. Supreme Court took many twists:

bulletSeven individuals from the three counties and the American Civil Liberties Union initiated a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on 1999-NOV-18.
bulletShortly after the complaint was filed, the court displays were changed to "include secular historical and legal documents," some of which were excerpted to "include only that document's reference to God or the Bible with little or no surrounding text." 1 The additions included three mainly secular documents:
bulletAn excerpt from the Declaration of Independence
bulletThe Preamble to the Constitution of Kentucky
bulletthe Mayflower Compact.

It also included six documents with religious content -- all relating to Judeo-Christianity:
bulletThe national motto of "In God We Trust"
bulletA page from the Congressional Record of 1983-FEB-02, declaring 1983 to be the Year of the Bible and including a copy of the Ten Commandments
bulletA proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln designating 1863-APR-30 a National Day of Prayer and Humiliation.
bulletAn excerpt from President Lincoln’s "Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible" reading: "The Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man."
bulletA proclamation by President Ronald Reagan marking 1983 the Year of the Bible. 1

bulletThe counties then filed motions to dismiss the case.
bulletThe district court denied the motions and issued a temporary injunction, ordering that the displays be removed, and that no similar displays be installed. The court ruled that "the amended displays failed the 'purpose' and 'effect' prongs of the three-part test set out in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), in that they lacked a secular purpose and had the effect of endorsing religion. The court ordered that the displays be removed 'immediately' and further ordered that 'similar displays' could not be erected in the future." 1
bulletThe defendants then installed new displays containing the Decalogue and the full texts of other secular historical and legal documents. Most of the latter had a religious theme.
bulletThe plaintiffs filed a motion to hold the counties in contempt of court.
bulletThe defendants responded to the motion by stating that the new displays were not similar to the earlier ones. They "contended that the 'purpose for the display is to educate citizens of the county regarding some of the documents that played a significant role in the foundation of our system of law and government'."
bulletThe court rejected the contempt motion and urged the parties to negotiate a settlement with each other.
bulletThe parties were unable to reach an agreement.
bulletThe district court issued a second injunction on 2001-JUN-22, ruling that "...the new displays were 'clearly outside the bounds of these permissible uses and [were] violative of the Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

horizontal rule

The appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals:

bulletThe counties appealed to a panel of three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
bulletThe plaintiffs won their case on appeal by a vote of 2 to 1. The court ruled, in part: "...the very text in which the Ten Commandments are contained in the schoolhouse displays manifests a patently religious purpose. Defendants' courthouse displays also manifest a religious purpose because they utterly fail to integrate the Ten Commandments with a secular subject matter. When distilled to their essence, the courthouse displays demonstrate that Defendants intend to convey the bald assertion that the Ten Commandments formed the foundation of American legal tradition. The Supreme Court has held, however, that 'such an avowed secular purpose is not sufficient to avoid conflict with the First Amendment' when no effort has been made to integrate the Ten Commandments with a discussion or display of a secular subject matter. Stone, 449 U.S. at 41. Since Defendants’ displays make no such effort, the district court correctly concluded that Defendants' primary purpose was religious....Defendants' courthouse displays assert that the Ten Commandments provide 'the moral background of the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of our legal tradition.'...The displays emphasize a single religious influence, with no mention of any other religious or secular influences. This fact confirms the rectitude of the district court’s conclusion that Defendants’ purposes were religious."  1
bulletThe counties appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, who decided on 2004-DEC-15 to hear oral arguments in the Kentucky and Texas cases.

horizontal rule

Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs:

Amicus Curiae briefs were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) by:

bulletNational School Boards Association
bulletRutherford Institute
bulletConservative Legal Defense and Education Fund
bulletJudicial Watch
bulletFederal government
bulletBecket Fund for Religious Liberty
bulletAshbrook Center for Public Affairs
bulletEagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund
bulletTwenty one states joined together in a single brief: AL, FL, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MN, MO, MS, OH, OK, NM, PA, SC, TX, UT, VA, WI and WY.
bulletFaith and Action
bulletPacific Justice Institute
bulletThomas More Law Center
bulletFoundation for Moral Law, Inc.
bulletAmerican Legion
bulletAmerican Center for Law and Justice
bulletFamily Research Council
bulletFocus on the Family
bulletWallBuilders, Inc.
bulletAmerican Liberties Institute
bulletAmerican Humanist Association
bulletAnti-Defamation League
bulletAmerican Atheists
bulletAtheist Law Center
bulletFreedom From Relgion [sic] Foundation
bulletCouncil for Secular Humanism
bulletInternational Academy of Humanism
bulletAmericans United for Separation of Church and State
bulletLegal Historians and Law Scholars
bulletBaptist Joint Committee. 2

On 2005-MAR-02. the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the two cases.

horizontal rule

References used:

  1. "American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky v. McCreary County, Kentucky, 01-5935," United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, at: http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/
  2. "McCreary County, Kentucky, et al. v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky," U.S. Supreme Court, at: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/
  3. "Top Court to Weigh Ten Commandments Cases," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-26, at: http://apnews.myway.com/

horizontal rule

Site navigation: Home > Religious LawsTen Commandments > 2005 SCOTUS cases > here

horizontal rule

Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAR-02
Latest update: 2005-JUN-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the "2005 SCOTUS cases" menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.