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Quote of the Day - The Ten Commandments contain 297 words, the Bill of Rights 463 words, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address 266 words. A recent federal directive regulating the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words. - New York Times
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It Took 10 Opinions To Explain The 10 Commandments

Trust Me On This One: The 10 Commandments Are Easier To Follow

The Ten Commandments have caused quite a stir for some time now. In fact, so much of a stir that Mel Brooks may have had it right in the first place.

At one time, it may have been 15 commandments, later 10, but now, depending on where it's displayed, whether it promotes a religious message and in some instances, how long it's been there, it might be Zero Commandments.

It's hard to figure out what the standards are for displaying the 10 Commandments on public property. In the course of 136 pages of ten separate opinions (no, I haven't counted the words) by various members of the Supreme Court, we learned that you can't display the 10 Commandments in a courthouse, unless, of course, it's the Supreme Court. Then it would be OK.

You can, however, display the 10 Commandments on the Texas Capitol grounds because it's been there a long time and out in the open, among 17 other monuments. But, it must not have a religious purpose.

This post doesn't address the full impact of the two decisions, Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary v. ACLU. There are many others who will give you the full academic versions. But whatever's written today may change later today.

Tuesday will bring a new light, and unfortunately, likely more conflicting separation of church and state rulings. That's when the Court is expected to announce its decisions in other as-yet undecided religion cases. One case is an appeal by the town of Great Falls, South Carolina from a ruling that it could not constitutionally open town council sessions with a prayer using Jesus Christ's name. What would that ruling be if they said the 10 Commandments?

For us practicing lawyers, these decisions are nothing short of a disappointment. Sure, the academics can read through the decisions, analyze them with the context of prior Supreme Court rulings, and somehow find the consistency among them. My question, though, is how do you justify a ruling that allows the 10 Commandments to be displayed in one courthouse but not another?

It's all based on context. Or is it?

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 00:23 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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