Thursday, March 25, 2004

Commandments must go

Circuit Court agrees posting in public buildings is illegal

The Associated Press

The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will not reconsider the decision of a three-judge panel that ruled the Ten Commandments should not be posted in public buildings in Kentucky, even if the religious laws are accompanied by other historical documents.

McCreary and Pulaski county officials hung framed copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses and later added other documents, such as the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence, after the display was challenged.

Harlan County had similar displays in its schools.

In a 2-1 decision in December 2002, the three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman's 2001 preliminary order to remove the displays until the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality.

The full court issued a ruling Tuesday denying the request to reconsider the December ruling.

Coffman said in her 2001 ruling that the purpose of displaying the Ten Commandments was "religious in nature."

She said the fact that the displays began with just the Ten Commandments and only later added the other documents "bolstered the reasonable observer's perception of the state endorsement of religion."

Erik Stanley, an attorney representing the counties, said legal avenues will be pursued to get the displays back up.

"We're going to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case," he said Wednesday.

"We have 90 days to do that."

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