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Supreme Court of the United States

If a Ten Commandments Monument Is Offensive, Avoid Washington, D.C.

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
October 17, 2017

If you’ve ever taken a tour of the monuments in Washington, D.C., chances are that you have been exposed to religious words and symbols.

These depictions represent the religious heritage of this nation. But there seems to be growing sentiment that we erase all mention of religion from our nation’s history.

That’s what two residents seem to be trying to do in Bloomfield, New Mexico, where they have filed a lawsuit against the city because a Ten Commandments monument sits on the city hall lawn. It is displayed there with several other monuments that are paid for by private citizens.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and co-counsel, Wilmar Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, and today they filed a reply brief in support of that request.

The ACLU is defending the two local residents who claim that this Ten Commandments monument is offensive to them and that it represents a government establishment of religion. They are asking the Supreme Court to adopt a “test” that would allow any town residents who see a monument to sue their home cities that have monuments with religious significance.

Well, I hope they never visit Washington, D.C. Here are just a few references to our religious heritage – specifically regarding Moses and the Ten Commandments – that you might see walking around our nation’s capital:


Moses is featured in a sculpture on the East side of the Supreme Court building.


Moses is included in a sculpture on the East side of the building, where “the marble figures represent great lawgivers.”


Moses appears in the House Chamber in the Capitol building.


Moses is one of 23 marble portraits displayed in the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol. These portraits “depict historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law.”


Moses holding the 10 Commandments in the courtroom of the Supreme Court.


The artist “designed a procession of ‘great lawgivers of history’ for the south and north walls to portray the development of law.”


The ACLU also wants the Court to adopt a test for evaluating monuments that really isn’t a test at all. It would allow courts to decide the legality of monuments acknowledging our religious heritage on a case-by-case basis. This provides no guidance to government officials who want to comply with the law, and gives anti-religion advocates freedom to roam around the country challenging any monument that offends them.


We should all be able to acknowledge the role that religion has played in the history of our law and in the history of our country without being offended. And even if we are offended, that should certainly not be the criteria for determining what monuments we can display.


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Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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