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No Ten Commandments for you, Roy Moore

Daddy Dobson‘s probably angry right now.

“The Court’s second-guessing of the hidden purposes of the Kentucky commissioners smacks of judicial tyranny. The Court has tightened its grip on every aspect of our lives. These five unelected people in black robes are not declaring law; they are arbitrarily setting social policy for the entire country.”
Stephen M. Crampton, Chief Counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy

“Religion and non-religion are on equal footing — and that’s dangerous.”
Pat Trueman, Family Research Council

“The one case, in Texas, saying the display was okay; but in the other case showing a growing hostility — not neutrality, but hostility — toward religion, in particular Christianity.”
— FRC president Tony Perkins

“The founders would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments. That the Ten Commandments would be deemed unconstitutional is an insult to the Constitution.”
— Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver

The Right and Talabama former judge Roy Moore are going to freak out on this one. Dobson, Falwell, Schlafly, et. al. are probably foaming at the mouth. (N&O;):

In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.

The 5-4 decision, first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion’s place in public life, took a case-by-case approach to this vexing issue. In the decision, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.

The justices left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays – like their own courtroom frieze – would be permissible if they’re portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation’s legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

“The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.

“When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality,” he said.

Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc – Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor, who provided the swing vote.

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that Ten Commandments displays are a legitimate tribute to the nation’s religious and legal history.

Government officials may have had a religious purpose when they originally posted the Ten Commandments display by itself in 1999. But their efforts to dilute the religious message since then by hanging other historical documents in the courthouses made it constitutionally adequate, Scalia said.

He was joined in his opinion by Chief William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justice Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

“In the court’s view , the impermissible motive was apparent from the initial displays of the Ten Commandments all by themselves: When that occurs: the Court says, a religious object is unmistakable,” he wrote. “Surely that cannot be.”

“The Commandments have a proper place in our civil history,” Scalia wrote.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding