Status quo: Supreme Court OKs Ten Commandments displays in some circumstances

ADF attorneys available for comment on today’s decisions by the high court
Monday, June 27, 2005

WASHINGTON—Today’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases involving displays of the Ten Commandments on public property confirmed that government entities may display the Ten Commandments in certain circumstances, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund.

“Like the Ten Commandments, America’s Judeo-Christian heritage is carved in stone. ADF is glad that the Supreme Court today recognized this truth in part,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “But these rulings only go part way in affirming that the Constitution allows government acknowledgements of America’s religious heritage. We’ve always believed that no single case or two is going to settle this once and for all.”

In ACLU v. McCreary County, the court ruled 5 to 4 that Ten Commandments displays in three Kentucky counties are unconstitutional, claiming that the intent behind the original posting of the displays was to advance religion. In Van Orden v. Perry, however, the court upheld a Ten Commandments display on the grounds of the Texas Capitol complex. The court ruled, in a decision by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, that the Texas display did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Lorence reiterated that the two decisions do not represent the end of the conflict. “They are part of an ongoing battle about whether Americans can acknowledge their own history,” he said. “ADF is in the Ten Commandments battle for the long haul. We will continue to defend a proper understanding of the Establishment Clause for as long as it takes.”

ADF provided funding for both cases and wrote an amicus brief for the Supreme Court in the Van Orden case. ADF has also provided funding in a number of other recent Ten Commandments-related cases, including Harlan County v. ACLU, Mercier v. City of LaCrosse, ACLU of Nebraska v. City of Plattsmouth, and Summum v. City of Duchesne.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.