Blockbuster: Church/State Case of the Year

Oct 12, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Supreme Court today agreed to hear a Kentucky case involving the display of the Ten Commandments together with other historical documents in courthouses in McCreary County, Kentucky. The county is represented by Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. The Court's decision in this case will prove to be vitally important on the issue of the constitutionality of displays containing the Ten Commandments. The Court has not granted review in a Ten Commandments case since 1980. In December 2003, a divided three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary ruling issued by a federal court that required removal of the Ten Commandments from the historical documents display.

The case involves a courthouse in McCreary County which displayed the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and other historical documents. The courthouses later established a public forum where private citizens could post additional historical documents. The displays intended to display historical documents and symbols that played a significant role in the founding of our system of law and government.

Controversy surrounding the Ten Commandment displays has brought the issue to courthouses across the country. Courts are sharply divided concerning the constitutionality of such displays and the conflicting rulings confuse citizens and townships regarding the legality of historical documents which have religious references. Currently, 4 federal circuit courts and one state Supreme Court hold that displays of Ten Commandments are constitutional, while 3 federal circuit courts hold that such displays are unconstitutional.

Mat Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, "We are pleased the Supreme Court has accepted review of this important case. The decision to review a case involving the display of the Ten Commandments is long overdue. The lower courts are hopelessly in confusion over the constitutionality of governmental displays of the Ten Commandments." Staver continued, "The Ten Commandments belong in a display of historical documents important to the foundation of our country. American history simply would be incomplete without reference or acknowledgement of the significant role religion, including the Ten Commandments, has played in our founding, history, and legal jurisprudence."