Monday, June 27, 2005

Ky courthouses must drop 10 commandment displays

From Raw Story, a 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision against 2 Kentucky courthouse displays of the decalogue. From Yahoo,
Court Splits on Ten Commandments Displays By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land, but drew the line on displays inside courthouses, saying they violated the doctrine of separation of church and state.

Sending dual signals in closely-watched cases, the high court said displays of the Ten Commandments — like their own courtroom frieze — are not inherently unconstitutional. But each exhibit demands scrutiny to determine whether it goes too far in amounting to a governmental promotin of religion, the court said in a case involving Kentucky courthouse exhibits.

In that 5-4 ruling and another ruling, involving the positioning of a 6-foot granite monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas capitol, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the swing vote. The second ruling, likewise, was 5-4. In a stinging dissent to the ruling involving Kentucky's courthouse exhibits, Justice Antonin Scalia declared: "What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses — like their own courtroom frieze — would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. Those courthouse displays are unconstitutional, the justices said, because their religious content is overemphasized.

In contrast, a 6-foot-granite monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol — one of 17 historical displays on the 22-acre lot — was determined to be a legitimate tribute to the nation's legal and religious history.

"Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious — they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument therefore has religious significance," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the majority in the case involving the display outside the state capitol of Texas.

"Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause," he said.

This is a very good ruling. It delineates between a historical display (such as the Supreme Court's, where the number 10 is used in some instances, or Moses is displayed beside other lawgivers. Also, the only commandments where text is given for the decalogue are those without religious connotation, thou shalt not kill...) and those where supporting a single religion is the goal of the display. This follows previous rulings, and does not make new law, which would have been the outcome of upholding the lower court's ruling.

Antonin Scalia's "dictatorship" comment will be eaten up by those who despise a judiciary that does not rule in its favor EVERY SINGLE TIME!

This ruling will be especially painful to the rapture right, which believes that God believes as they do, and any ruling against them is sinful in the extreme.

Hopefully, Scalia's venom will convince chief Justice Rehnquist to stay on another year or two, so that Bush cannot name another justice. Rehnquist probably does not want Bush to replace him, or he would have retired a few years ago.

by Robster @ 6/27/2005 10:23:00 AM PERMALink