Supreme Court rules Ten Commandments lawful

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    By Michael Koberlein

    In two separate 5-4 decisions Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down some exhibits of the Ten Commandments as a violation of the separation of church and state, but ruled others are constitutionally permissable.

    The decision may mean the city of Pleasant Grove might be able to keep its city park display of the Ten Commandments, while other displays within public buildings will have to go.

    The court permitted display of the Commandments in a park at the Texas Capitol, but disallowed displays within two Kentucky courthouses.

    Pleasant Grove City Attorney Tina Petersen said the dilemma was whether or not government displays of the Commandments were considered to be promoting religion or not.

    Pleasant Grove City is waiting on a decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals about a display of the Commandments they have in their city park, which is being challenged by the Society of Separationists, she said.

    ?Our contention is that they?re not displayed for religious purpose,? she said.

    In 1951, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a national service organization, started a 10 Commandments program, making monoliths of the Commandments for courthouse squares, city halls and public parks around the country, according to the Eagle?s Web site.

    Pleasant Grove received one of those monoliths, Petersen said. Separationists began tracking the location of the monoliths and challenging the constitutionality of their being displayed publicly on government property, arguing it is in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    Petersen said the Commandments display is in a city park that honors the Mormon pioneers along with victims of September 11.

    It would appear the ruling the Supreme Court made in favor of Texas would uphold the manner in which they appear in the city park, she said.

    Edward White, associate counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, is handling the case for Pleasant Grove. He said the final decision was delayed until the Supreme Court made a ruling on the Texas case, Van Orden v. Perry.

    White said the Van Orden case should uphold Pleasant Grove?s argument because the two cases have similar premises.

    ?You have two FOE [structures] which have been displayed for decades?[the ruling] only supports Pleasant Grove,? he said.

    As for the final ruling on Society of Separationists v. Pleasant Grove City, White said, ?it could be anytime now.?

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