Tuesday, January 13, 2004

District loses commandments court battle

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Public school officials in Adams County lost another court battle Monday in their quest to place granite tablets bearing the Ten Commandments in front of four schools.

A panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that barred the religious display because it violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

The school district was forced to remove the tablets in June after the 6th Circuit refused to delay the order of U.S. Magistrate Timothy Hogan.

In its 3-0 ruling Monday, the 6th Circuit concluded that the display on public property had no "secular purpose" and therefore was an endorsement of a particular religious belief.

The 800-pound tablets were placed in front of the four schools in 1997 after a ministers' group donated them to the district. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of an Adams County resident.

The district later added several other tablets to the display, including one bearing the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and claimed the monuments were part of a secular display.

The 6th Circuit judges said the later additions did not change the inherently religious nature of the Ten Commandments.

Monday's decision was unpublished, meaning it may not be cited as legal precedent in future cases.


E-mail dhorn@enquirer.com

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