The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas, has ruled a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds does not violate the U.S. Constitution by establishing a state-sponsored religion.
Thomas Van Orden, a homeless man, had sued, claimed the monument was a government endorsement of Judeo-Christian values.
In its ruling, the appeals panel agreed with the state, which argued the Ten Commandments are historical in nature because they provide a foundation for Western law.
“The Ten Commandments are undoubtedly a sacred religious text, but they are also a foundational document in the development of Western legal codes and culture,” Attorney General Greg Abbott, who defended the Texas monument, told the Associated Press today. “The Texas monument has stood for over 40 years, and the court’s decision affirms that the monument is entirely consistent with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.”
The 6-foot-tall granite monument was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1961. The monolith is one of 17 monuments and memorials on the grounds of the state Capitol.
The court noted, “Even those who would see the Decalogue as wise counsel born of man’s experience rather than as divinely inspired religious teaching cannot deny its influence upon the civil and criminal laws of this country. That extraordinary influence has been repeatedly acknowledged by the Supreme Court and detailed by scholars. Equally so is its influence upon ethics and the ideal of a just society.
“There is no constitutional right to be free of government endorsement of its own laws,” said the decision.
Liberty Counsel, a civil-liberties legal defense organization, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state.
“This decision begins to turn the tide against the historical revisionism of groups like the ACLU who seek to remove all references to the Ten Commandments from our public life,” Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “We are excited that the court issued such a ringing endorsement of the Ten Commandments and their effect on our laws. This opinion energizes us to take our fight to preserve our history, including the Ten Commandments, to the highest levels.”
The group says it is currently defending 10 separate Ten Commandment displays throughout the country. In the past 14 months, two federal courts of appeals and three federal district courts have found such displays to be constitutional.
Earlier today, Alabama’s nine-member Court of the Judiciary removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice for defiance of a federal judge’s order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state courthouse.
With a unanimous vote, the panel concluded Moore violated judicial ethical standards and removed him halfway through his six-year elected term.
The granite monument, which Moore installed two years ago, was moved Aug. 28 from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building to a non-public back room.
Editor’s note: “THE MYTH OF CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION” – the special November edition of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine – documents conclusively that the modern legal doctrine of “separation of church and state” is the work of activist judges, and has utterly no basis in the Constitution.