Ten Commandments decision is in


5-4 ruling against framed pictures of the 10 Commandments in Kentucky courthouses. But the 10 Cs are not inherently unconstitutional, and each case has to be looked at closely.


Is it time to updade the establishment clause and explicitly raise that wall of separation higher?

The decision seems reasonable. Courtrooms are supposed to be places of impartiality. Putting “Have no other Gods but the (Christian) God” front and center and then declaring it the fount of the law to which litigants will be subjected is not qualitatively different from plastering “white people come first” there. But placing it within a historical display of many other formative documents in the history of law manages to stay within the lines of avoiding explicit endorsement.

The problem I have is that the establishment clause sets such a high threshold. Clearly, the intent was to forbid the government from literally “establishing” a religion, as was the custom in most countries at that time. Certainly some of the founders wanted a “wall of separation”, something much more than the mere forbidding of establishment, but that’s not the compromise wording that ended up in the actual amendment.

As **Apos **notes, that first commandment comes damn close to “establishment”, although I don’t believe it actually “establish” a religion. Given the religious climate in this country today, I doubt we could tighten up the wording and raise that wall of separation much higher. However, I certainly would like to see a better worded separation clause that would clearly outlaw the display of a religious item, such as the 10 Commandments, that forbids the worship of “other Gods”.

All in all, looks relatively decent, but never thought this was a fight worth having anyway. I might be slightly more pleased with a winter solstice holiday rather than an Xmas holiday, but its not an issue I will consent to care about. Xmas displays at City Hall? Fine. Who cares? “Ceremonial deism” works ok too, especially if it gets the God Goons to shut up.

There should be a wall between church and state, but there never really has been, and I seriously doubt we have any reasonable chance of constructing one. Insisting on the equality of all doctrines, including atheism, Scientology, and Church of Subgenius (for I happen to believe that humor is one of the most important of the blessings of the Goddess) is a better strategy. Gets the ball out of our court, puts it squarely in theirs, so that the Pentecostals can duke it out with Opus Dei over Marianist doctrine, and the Wiccans can square off against the Amish.

Good clean fun if you haven’t a dog in the fight.

BTW, this is absolutely an instance where I personally like the decision (I don’t want the 10 Cs in any government building), but I’m unhappy with the process-- at least at first glance. I didn’t see the actual decision on FindLaw yet.

I note with approval how closely John’s opinion aligns with my own. It is heartening to see that one has a positive influence.

Let’s have the Space Marine’s gun (From Aliens) put on display in a museum showing effective weapons. After all, it is a movie prop, too. :mad:

The problem is that it’s cheif architect, Madison, clearly thought it should also prevent things like Congressional chaplains and so forth. The whole point was that religion was something reserved exclusively for the people (and their states, at the time) to have and to control. Allowing people to use their people-granted authority to posture about religion was seen as the corrupting influence that would harm both religion and government.

I don’t know what good it would do. Look at the First Amendment. It reads: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” NO law. What the hell could be clearer than that? But we’ve had censorship of one kind of another throughout out history, with another bit of defacto censorship being slid under the door via intrusive regulation. If language that clear and simple has been ignored throughout our history, what do you suppose will be the fate of any such revisions?

Let me clean up that post a bit:

Sentence six should read: ""with another bit of defacto censorship currently being slid under the door … **

Sentence 7 should read: “If language as clear and simple as the First Amendment clause outlawing censorship can be ignored throughout our history, what do you suppose will be the fate of any revision to the law establishing freedom of religion?”

What exactly do you mean by “wall between church and state”?

I think if you compare the US to, say, England, Norway or Saudi Arabia–all of which have state-sponsored religion–it’s fairly obvious that we have a division between church and state that doesn’t exist in those countries.

I think the decision is wonderfully reasonable. If there’s a reason for the 10C to be displayed, as one component of an exhibit of the lineage of the American legal framework, then I have absolutely no problem with it. The problem has been that it’s rarely been such.

The reason the Ten Commandments gets displayed in courtrooms is to show that we are a Christian nation. Christian! Not Jewish, not Muslim, not Wiccan. And ESPECIALLY not atheist! And everybody else can go to hell!


The nerve of those Jews, thinking they have some connection with the Ten Commandments. As if!



(WARNING: PDF files)

Here are the full texts of the decisions.

I mean I would prefer a stricter, more significant wall beween church and state. I would prefer that the state eschew all support and recognition. I also see that as impractical, given our present circumstances.

I just don’t happen to think its worth fighting for unless and until such state sponsored recognition becomes either too oppressive or too specific.

Notice Evil Captor never denied a Jewish connection to the Ten Commandments. Instead he talked about why people wish to display them in courtrooms. And I don’t believe Judge Roy Moore wants to make a statement about the Judeo-Christian basis of the American legal system. You of course might think differently.

What amazes me is that there are 4 justices that can’t see what a flagrant violation this is. Strikes me as pretty much a slam dunk case, but apparently not.

But this one isn’t even close! I can see there are battles that aren’t practical right now, but this one is so clearly on the wrong side…

Not worth fighting for you. How do you think a Moslem accused of a crime feels about his chances of impartiality when he walks into a courtroom and stands in the dock facing a display that tells him he is in violation of what the court is stressing as Gods law?

So much for Freedom of Speech. Its OK to burn and stomp on the flag of the American people, but to display the words that are accepted by a significant portion of the American people, Christians, Muslims, and Jews is verboten.

This was a pretty muddy decision, IMO. Sometimes the 10C are okay and sometimes they’re not. This will leave the lower courts struggling with these kinds of cases for years to come. The SC will likely have to revisit this decision in the future.

Personally, I cannot see how “I AM the LORD thy GOD” could not be an endorsement of religion unless our society have come to see that term as being empty.