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Read about events from other years

The judge Moore case in Alabama is discussed elsewhere

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Legal challenges and court decisions:

bullet 2004-JAN-30: OH: Adams County requests review of appeals court panel ruling: A group of Christian ministers in rural Adams County, about 60 miles east of Cincinnati OH, donated four 3-foot-tall 800 pound granite monuments which contained the text of the Ten Commandments to the Ohio Valley School Board. They were installed on public school grounds. Berry Baker, a resident of Peebles OH launched a lawsuit against the Adams County / Ohio Valley School board with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union. The County lost at trial on 2002-JUN. However, the school board did not remove the monuments until 2003-JUN, and then only after the ACLU asked a federal magistrate to rule that the board was in contempt of court. The board and county lost again on 2004-JAN-12 when a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the lower court decision. The County has now requested a review by the full court. Scott Greenwood, general counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, noted that the board's efforts are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal costs. He suggested that the board simply comply with the courts' rulings. 1
bullet 2004-FEB-18: NE: Court orders Ten Commandments monument removed from park: A panel of the 8th Circuit court of Appeals ruled that the Ten Commandments display adjacent to a city park in Plattsmouth was unconstitutional. This is an unusual case, because the display was actually located on private land owned by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. This was the group that installed almost 4,000 similar monuments in various courthouses and parks in the U.S. The Order's headquarters is located in Plattsmouth. They own a parcel of land across the street from their building that abuts the park. But to the casual observer, their parcel and the park are a seamless unity. Most people would assume that the monument is actually on city park property. The full court has vacated the ruling and decided to rehear the case. U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf ruled that the display "...conveys a message that Christianity and Judaism are favored religions." The display also includes two Stars of David, the main Jewish symbol. 2,3
bullet 2004-MAR-7: IN: Ten Commandments marker destroyed: A Jeep Cherokee filled with "young white males" drove over the curb in front of the Eagles Lodge in Anderson, IN and broke a 6 by 4 ft limestone marker bearing the Ten Commandments. The monument ended up in 12 pieces and cannot be repaired. The marker has an interesting history. It was donated to the state in 1958 by the Eagles Lodge. In 1991, Stephen M. Schroeder of Indianapolis allegedly damaging it five times when it was located on the lawn of the statehouse. Found guilty at trial, he refused on principle to pay a $2,500 fine and thus spent 90 days in jail. That time, the marker split into two pieces. It was repaired in 1998, and installed at the Eagles Lodge. According to Ruth Holladay of the Indianapolis Star, Schroeder has a particular hatred for things Pagan. He said: "Right above the proclamation 'The Lord my God is One God' was a breasted sun god, a triangle with a crescent moon on top, an all-seeing eye with breasts. It was the same graven image on [Pagan] altars in Carthage." 4
bullet 2004-MAR-10: MS: House votes to allow Ten Commandments to be posted in public buildings: The Mississippi House voted 94 to 18 to allow the Decalogue to be posted in any public building in the state. Rep. Willie Bailey, (D) said the bill could cost school districts and local governments millions of dollars to defend the practice in lawsuits that they had no possibility of winning. He said: "A lot of the people who are supporting this don't even practice the Ten Commandments. A lot of the authors don't even practice the Ten Commandments. But yet we want to force it on everybody else because we think that it's the right thing to do that we're showing our religion. Our religion has to start in the heart somewhere." The bill was amended to also allow public buildings to post the national motto "In God We Trust" and the Beatitudes, listed in the book of Matthew. State law already requires "In God We Trust" to be posted in every public school classroom. 5
bullet 2004-MAR-15: MN: Duluth city council votes to remove Ten Commandments monument: By a close vote of 5 to 4, the city council voted to remove its Ten Commandments monument from the city hall lawn. This will avoid a federal lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The seven-foot monument was a gift from the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and has been in place since 1957-OCT. 6 A Save the Ten Commandments Committee was formed to buy the monument and relocate it to the nearby Canal Park. They are also initiating a referendum to have the city land where the monument had stood turned over to St. Louis County so that they can "...put another monument up -- maybe one that we can light up." They have obtained 3,500 signatures and have raised $20,000. 7

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bullet 2004-JUL-11: OH: Judge to remove Ten Commandments from courtroom: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWesse to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. Jeff Gamso, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio -- the group which initiated the lawsuit --  said: "My expectation is we're not going to keep doing case after case. At some point it really does become clear that they can't do this stuff." 8
bullet 2004-JUL-17: USA: Monument to tour the country: Former Chief Justice Roy Moore has given the Texas-based group Veterans Standing for God and Country permission to take his Ten Commandments monument from its storage area in the Alabama Judicial Building on tour around the U.S., ending in Washington, DC. Moore has asked Congress to allow the monument to be displayed at the Capitol building. He wrote: "At a time when our sacred institution of marriage is being assaulted by those who would deny the law of God, Americans need to be reminded of our moral foundation. I have agreed to allow the Veterans Standing for God and Country to display the monument in various locations across the country." A member of the group, Wiley Drake, who is the pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, CA said: "We need to bring back to the attention of the American public that they need to acknowledge God in public because it is absolutely necessary for this nation to survive." John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, hopes that the monument will eventually be on display in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. If that cannot happen, his second wish is that "...Congress will graciously welcome the foundation of our moral law in our nation's Capitol." 9
bullet 2004-SEP-15: NE: Case involving monument in Plattsmouth: The plaintiff in this case is "John Doe," an Atheist who lives in Plattsmouth -- a town of about 7,000 located twenty miles south of Omaha. He has remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation by some locals. He sees the monument daily as he walks to work and occasionally when he attends events in the city's Memorial Park where the monument is located. He won his case before U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln, NE., and later before a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kopf ruled that the monument violated the principle of separation of church and state and "conveys a message that Christianity and Judaism are favored religions." The monument contains the text of the Ten Commandments and two Jewish Stars of David. The case is now being heard before the entire Court of Appeals. Francis Manion, a lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who represents the city claimed that the monument was simply a gift from a civic group, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and not an endorsement of a religious way of life. He said that "We were able to present our case in a manner that urged the court to view the monument in Plattsmouth as a reflection of the history and heritage of our nation - a monument that does not violate the constitution."  But Amy Miller, a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who represents the plaintiff claimed that the monument is "ample evidence of a Christian purpose." She said that the debate is about religion. The plaintiff has received death threats. When another ACLU representative tried to address the city council, he was shouted down by the audience. She said: "Essentially you're left with: these are the words of God." 11
bullet 2004-SEP-16: OH: Case continues: Attorneys for Judge DeWeese have appealed the ruling of a panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. It will now be heard by the full court. DeWeese said: "It's very difficult to get a rehearing, but we are hopeful because the dissenting opinion was very articulate. They started to recognize some of the free-speech arguments."  He has taken down the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and replaced them with an argument in their favor: "The Ten Commandments are symbolic in Western Civilization of absolute duties, which apply to all people. They were part of the English Common Law. They were included in the legal codes of our American colonies." The statement continues by saying that the lack of absolute values endangers everyone: "It allows a student at Columbine High School to decide that his hurt feelings are more important than classmates' lives. It allowed Adolf Hitler to decide that Jews, retarded people and gypsies were inferior human beings who deserved extermination....Nevertheless, the text of the Ten Commandments is considered so dangerous that it has been censored from this courtroom by a federal judge. If you want to see what the Commandments say, you'll have to look in a Bible (Exodus 20) or an encyclopedia." 10 It is perhaps notable that Judge DeWeese does not mention two additional groups specifically targeted for extermination by the Nazi Holocaust: homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses. It is unclear why Judge DeWeese believes that everyone, including Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, etc. are expected to worship Yahweh, as commanded by the Decalogue or suffer retaliation by God against their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
bullet 2004-OCT-12: U.S. Supreme Court agrees to rule on Ten Commandments cases: In a surprise announcement, the court decided to consider the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land and buildings. The last time that they ruled on this topic was in 1980 when they banned posting of the Decalogue in public school classrooms. They will review two cases: One is a six-feet tall monument on the state Capitol grounds in Texas, donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. and a ruling by a lower court that barred posting the Decalogue as one component in a cultural display in Kentucky courthouses. The two cases are: Van Orden v. Perry, 03-1500, and McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693. 12

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Related essays on this site

bullet Ten Commandments legal conflicts in past years
bullet A detailed analysis of the Ten Commandments
bullet Recent U.S. court rulings on separation of church and state
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1995-1996
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1997-1999
bullet Prayer in the public schools

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  1. "Adams Co. board wants review of 10 Commandments ruling," Associated Press, 2004-JAN-31, at:
  2. "Sekulow Weighs in on Ten Commandments Battles," CBN News, 2003-AUG-27, at:
  3. Dave Bohon. "Duluth faces lawsuit over Ten Commandments display," Minnesota Family Council, undated, at: 
  4. Ruth Halladay, "On Commandments monument, he finds a pagan plot," Indianapolis Star, 2004-MAR-16, at:
  5. Emily Pettus, "Miss. House OKs bill for Ten Commandments in public buildings," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2004-MAR-11, at:
  6. "Duluth to remove Ten Commandments monument," Associated Press, 2004-MAR-16, at:
  7. "Ten Commandments monument for sale to highest bidder in Duluth, Minnesota. Sale Is The Result of Federal Lawsuit With Civil Liberties Union," Assist Mews Service, 2004-JUN-30, at:
  8. Jim Siegel, "Ten Commandments debate far from over," TimesRecorder, 2004-JUL-18, at:
  9. Jannell McGrew, "Moore to move monument," Montgomery Advertiser, 2004-JUL-17, at:
  10. "DeWeese wants Commandments back in his courtroom frame," News Journal, 2004-SEP-16, at:
  11. "Court hears arguments in Ten Commandments case," Omaha World-Herald, 2004-SEP-15, at:
  12. "Supreme Court jumps into issue of Ten Commandments displays," Associated Press, 2004-OCT-12, at:

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious LawsTen Commandments > here

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Copyright 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-FEB-1
Latest update: 2004-OCT-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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