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NM Town considers appeal of 10th Circuit ruling against 10 Commandments monument

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs.
Published On: 10/18/2017

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs regarding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s order Monday in Felix v. City of Bloomfield denying the City’s request to review a lower court’s decision to uproot a Ten Commandments monument from the lawn of City Hall:

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to censor or whitewash religion’s role in history simply to appease the emotional response of two offended individuals with a political agenda. As the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, a passive monument, such as this display of the Ten Commandments, accompanied by others acknowledging our nation’s religious heritage cannot be interpreted as an establishment of religion. This court’s order failed to recognize ‘the historical understanding of what an establishment of religion is and what the First Amendment actually prohibits.’ Because of this misinterpretation of the law, we are consulting with our client to consider their options for appeal.”


Excerpts from the dissenting opinion filed by Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. and joined by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich in opposition to the majority’s panel opinion supporting the court’s order (citations omitted):


p. 3:  This decision continues the error of our Establishment Clause cases. It does not align with the historical understanding of an “establishment of religion” and thus with what the First Amendment actually prohibits.


p. 3:  To make sense of the Establishment Clause, one must understand the historical background that informed the Framers’ use of the word “establishment.”


p. 11:  Citing the majority’s conditions for public monuments of limited religious nature under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause: “Yet the City of Bloomfield did each of those things. It accompanied the monument with secular markers such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address. It avoided a government-sponsored or government-led religious ceremony at the unveiling, instead allowing private persons to run the event. And it provided not one but two disclaimers, one on the monument itself and one on a freestanding sign on the City Hall lawn. What more should the City have done, besides not having a Ten Commandments display at all?”


p. 13:  Though this court may view the placement of the Ten Commandments as unwise, unnecessary, or even aesthetically displeasing, we should defer to local government decisions absent an actual violation of the First Amendment.


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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