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The Texas case

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The case:

Van Orden v. Perry (03-1500): This case involves a six-foot tall granite monument containing the Ten Commandments placed on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol at Austin in 1961 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It includes:

bullet The words "Ten Commandments,"
bullet The text of the Decalogue including the words "I am the Lord thy God,"
bullet A Star of David,
bullet A symbol representing Jesus Christ 

No material from other religions is included. No text from secular sources is included.

The respondent in the case is Rick Perry, in his capacity as governor of Texas and Chairman of its State Preservation Board. 1,2,3

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Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs:

These were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by:

bullet National School Boards Association
bullet Rutherford Institute
bullet Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund
bullet Judicial Watch, Inc.
bullet Federal Government
bullet Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
bullet Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs
bullet Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund
bullet State of Alabama and many other states
bullet Faith and Action
bullet State of Minnesota
bullet Pacific Justice Institute
bullet Thomas More Law Center
bullet Foundation for Moral Law, Inc.
bullet American Legion
bullet American Center for Law and Justice
bullet Family Research Council
bullet Focus on the Family
bullet WallBuilders, Inc.
bullet American Liberties Institute
bullet American Humanist Association
bullet Anti-Defamation League
bullet American Atheists
bullet Atheist Law Center
bullet Freedom From Relgion [sic] Foundation
bullet Council for Secular Humanism
bullet International Academy of Humanism
bullet Americans United for Separation of Church and State
bullet Legal Historians and Law Scholars
bullet Baptist Joint Committee 4

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

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The plaintiff:

Thomas Van Orden, describes himself as a religious pluralist. He was raised in a Methodist family, had a brief interest in the Unitarian Universalist religion, but now regards himself as "not religious.3 He said: "I have nothing against the Ten Commandments. I grew up with the Ten Commandments," I didn't sue Christianity or Judaism. I sued the government. It was filed to uphold the principles of the First Amendment." He launched a lawsuit against the state of Texas. He has said that the state has crossed the line separating church and state by promoting "personal religious beliefs." He includes in his brief the comment that many religions reject the concept of a single God who lays down rules for human behavior. He said: "Even among religions that accept the Ten Commandments, there are significant differences in content of each religion's version of the Ten Commandments." 1 The Decalogue text on the monument is almost identical to the Protestant version. Although the majority of court decisions on isolated religious displays have found them unconstitutional, Van Orden lost at the federal appeals level and has appealed to the Supreme Court. He has received threatening E-mails, that warn "we're gonna get you" and tell him to "get the hell out" of the country if he cannot support Christianity and the American way of life. 3

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References used:

  1. "Join us! Wednesday, March 2 rally at Supreme Court..." AANEWS, 2005-FEB-28.
  2. Bill Mears, "Ten Commandments before high court. Explosive church-state issues from Kentucky, Texas," CNN,com Law Center, 2005-MAR-01, at:
  3. "Top Court to Weigh Ten Commandments Cases," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-26, at:
  4. "Van Orden v. Perry," U.S. Supreme Court, at:
  5. Pete Winn, "Ten Commandments arguments go well," Focus on the Family, 2005-MAR-02, at:

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