Saturday, January 31, 2004

Adams Co. board wants review of 10 Commandments ruling

The Associated Press

The Adams County school board has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling forbidding displays of the Ten Commandments on public school grounds.

Lawyers for the Adams County/Ohio Valley School Board filed a request this week for a review by the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. A three-judge panel ruled Jan. 12 to forbid the display of the Ten Commandments on stone monuments at four Adams County public high schools.

The appeals court hadn't ruled on the request Friday. The court's ruling against the Ten Commandments display affirmed a lower court's 2002 decision.

Both courts upheld the American Civil Liberties Union's argument that the U.S. Constitution forbids the display because it appears to be an illegal government endorsement of religion. The ACLU's lawyers, representing Peebles resident Berry Baker, said the display had a religious, not secular, purpose and is therefore illegal on public property.

Scott Greenwood, general counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, said the Adams County school board should comply with the federal court rulings, rather than continuing to challenge them. The board's lengthy legal fight is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in attorney fees, Greenwood said.

He noted that the school board removed the 3-foot-tall, 800-pound granite monuments from the school grounds in June only after the ACLU asked a federal magistrate to conclude that the board was in contempt of the court.

The board hadn't removed the monuments for a full year since the magistrate's June 2002 ruling that the displays could not be on public school grounds, Greenwood said.

Ministers in rural Adams County, about 60 miles east of Cincinnati, donated the Ten Commandments monuments.

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