Thursday, July 29, 2004

Court asked to reconsider ban on Commandments

The Associated Press

Activists asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to reconsider its ruling forbidding the display of the Ten Commandments in an Ohio judge's courtroom.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 on July 14 that the display in the courtroom of Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese violates the Constitution.

Wednesday, the American Center for Law and Justice - an advocacy group representing DeWeese - asked the full appeals court to set aside the ruling and reconsider the case.

DeWeese and the American Center for Law and Justice argue that the Ten Commandments, beyond their religious meaning, have a legitimate secular significance as part of the historic foundation for modern law. Along with the Ten Commandments, DeWeese displayed a separate poster of the Bill of Rights in his Mansfield courtroom. He put the words "the rule of law" atop both posters.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued over the July 2000 display of the Ten Commandments, contending that its posting in a public courtroom gave it the appearance of an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

The appeals court ruled that DeWeese failed to establish a legally permissible secular reason for the display. The decision upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley of Cleveland.

Jeff Gamso, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said he would be surprised if the appeals court agrees to rehear the case.

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