Ten Commandments monument

The Idaho Supreme Court has authorized an election in Boise for voters to decide whether they want the Ten Commandments displayed in a city park, and supporters of the plan say it could have national ramifications.

“There’s no reason other communities cannot do the same thing,” Bryan Fischer, the executive director of Idaho Values Alliance, told WorldNetDaily yesterday. “We will abide by the will of the voters and we expect the mayor and city council to do the same thing.”

The 4-1 ruling came earlier this week from the state Supreme Court, which said the city is required to hold an initiative election after a group called the Keep the Commandments Coalition collected more than 19,000 signatures on a petition.

“All we’ve asked for from day one is our day at the ballot box, and we’re finally going to get it,” Fischer said.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles had donated a Ten Commandments monument to the city in 1965 to be placed in Julia Davis Park. That monument was removed in 2004 by city officials worried about the threat of lawsuits.

So the Coalition filed a petition with the Boise city clerk, respectfully demanding a vote.

The clerk verified there were more than the needed 10,721 signatures of qualified electors to place the issue on the ballot, but the city council refused and directed the city attorney to file an action.

He sought a declaratory judgment, which was granted by a lower court, but that decision was overturned this week.

“The initiative process arises from the Idaho Constitution, Article III, Section 1, and extends to the cities by legislative mandate. … It is not an inconvenience created by rabble rousers and malcontents to vex established authority,” the Supreme Court opinion said.

“Just as the Court would not interrupt the legislature in the consideration of a bill prior to enactment, the Court will not interrupt the consideration of a properly qualified initiative,” the ruling said.

“This ruling honors the hard, hard work that dozens of volunteers did two summers ago in collecting the signatures of over 19,000 concerned citizens,” Fischer said in a statement on the IVA website.

“We’re not sure yet when the election will be held, but if our understanding of state election law is correct, it should be on the November 7 ballot,” he said, noting polls that show 75 percent of the population approving the plan.

He said the monument isn’t a constitutional problem.

“You can find the Ten Commandments in four different places in the United States Supreme Court building. If it’s good enough for the Supreme Court, it’s good enough for Julia Davis Park,” he said.

He also added that the monument that is proposed is identical to one that is on display in Pocatello, and already has been challenged in – and approved by – a federal court.

“As far as we know this is the first time in our nation’s history that a community has made an effort to return the Ten Commandments to the public square through the initiative process,” he said.

“When the votes are in, we’ll honor the will of the people, and we fully expect the mayor and city council to do the same,” he said.

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