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ADF attorneys ask U.S. Supreme Court to review Okla. Ten Commandments decision

High court asked to stop another attempt to censor acknowledgment of nation’s religious heritage
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WASHINGTON — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that said a Ten Commandments display at the Haskell County, Okla., courthouse is unconstitutional.  A district court had ruled in favor of ADF attorneys representing the county in the lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, until the 10th Circuit reversed the decision.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.  “There is no wall of separation between our religious heritage and the public square.  Thomas Jefferson’s ‘wall’ protected the church from government control, not the public square from references to America’s religious heritage. Such public acknowledgments do not create a constitutional crisis. If they did, we’d have to sandblast many walls and monuments in Washington, D.C., including the walls of the Supreme Court.”

In March 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of one offended individual, filed suit to remove a Ten Commandments monument located on the Haskell County Courthouse lawn. The lawn includes memorials to the Choctaw Indian Tribe, World War II veterans, Vietnam War veterans, Korean War veterans, and settlers buried in unmarked graves, among others. In August 2006, a federal district court judge ruled that the presence of the monument was constitutional. The ACLU appealed that decision to the 10th Circuit, which reversed the lower court ruling.

In the petition for review filed in Haskell County Board of Commissioners v. Green, ADF attorneys wrote,  “Circuit courts need this Court’s guidance on the proper analysis to apply to monuments passively acknowledging religion’s historical significance that are part of historical displays on government grounds. Otherwise, these cases will continue to be decided on irrelevant facts like those that led to the finding of unconstitutionality in this case:  age of the monument, how quickly it was challenged, whether it is displayed by a small or large town, and the personal religious views of the government officials who allowed it.”

“The Ten Commandments should not be attacked to cover up their role in American history,” said Theriot. “They clearly have historical significance for our country.  To ignore that would mean rewriting the history books.”

Attorney Brent Olsson of the Oklahoma City firm of Huckaby, Fleming, Greenwood & Olsson, LLP, is assisting with the case.

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. ADF President Alan Sears is co-author with Craig Osten of the book The ACLU vs. America.

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Kevin Theriot
Kevin Theriot
Senior Counsel
Kevin Theriot serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom