Federal Court Orders Ten Commandments Removed From Florida Courthouse
The decision out of Gainesville, Florida is an example of growing governmental hostility toward religious faith and religious symbols in the public square
The decision is an example of governmental hostility toward religious faith and religious symbols in the public square. The effort to scrub the public square of such religious expression is a threat to religious freedom, runs contrary to our founding documents, and is unfaithful to our history as a free people. It represents an incorrect application of the Establishment Clause and is a form of religious cleansing. Religious freedom means a freedom for religious expression; not a removal of such expression from public places
The display in front of the Florida Courthouse which the Judge ordered to be removed.
GAINSVILLE, FL. (Catholic Online) - On July 15, 2011 the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a thirteen page opinion in a case entitled ACLU of Florida Inc. v. Dixie County Florida (ND FL, Case 1:07-cv-00018-MP-GRJ). It can be read in its entirety here . The Court ordered that a large Ten Commandments monument - paid for privately by a local businessman and displayed since 2006 - be removed within thirty days from the front steps of the Courthouse.
The issue in the Court's own words "At issue in this case is whether a five-foot, six-ton granite monument on the front steps of the Dixie County courthouse, displaying the Ten Commandments as well as directing all viewers to "LOVE GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS," violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." The Court said it did.
The Court awarded one dollar to the ACLU in nominal damages. Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida said to a local paper, "We hope that Dixie County officials will find a permanent place for it at a church or other house of worship, which is the appropriate place for religious monuments."
Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of The Liberty Counsel, Dean and Professor of law at Liberty University School of Law and Director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy, represented those who defended the commandments at the Courthouse in Florida. I know him. He is a good lawyer and a good and courageous man.
He responded to the loss with these words, "This is only the first step in a march to the United States Supreme Court. Since 2005, we have won every Ten Commandments case except one. We are ready to return to the Supreme Court. The ACLU has shown in three separate losses at the court of appeals that they have lost the High Court on this issue and they are reluctant to return."
On Monday January 4, 2011, a three judge panel of the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filed its opinion in the "Mount Soledad Cross Case", Trunk v. City of San Diego. They held that the Mount Soledad cross which had stood since 1913 had somehow now become a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
All who are concerned about religious freedom in the United States should watch these cases with great concern. As a constitutional lawyer I have long questioned the current establishment clause law in our Nation. In 1992 I wrote a law review article entitled "In the Wake of Weisman: The Lemon Test is Still a lemon but the Psycho-coercion Test is more bitter Still".
In that article, after tracing the history of the interpretation of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the developments of the last few decades, I predicted the insanity that would follow from the efforts of the Supreme Court to apply the so called "Lemon Rule" (named after the Courts 1971 opinion in Lemon v Kurtzman) and it's ever expanding "interpretations" and permutations. Insanity is precisely what has occurred.
We are experiencing a judicial ping pong game; incomprehensible opinions requiring a showing that religious symbols have a "secular" purpose - as though religion and the common good are mutually exclusive. Federal Judges make up their own rules by which they decide whether a religious symbol will be allowed to stand on public land or in a public building. There is not even a pretense that the actual words of the Establishment Clause have any effect in this new world of the judicial oligarchy.
The Establishment Clause is best understood as an "anti-establishment" clause. It was intended to prohibit the "establishment" of one particular religion - in the sense of a Federal or State sponsored Church which mandated adherence from unwilling citizens. The American founders fled coercive approaches to religion which compelled adherence to a particular sect. Yet, they were not anti-religious.
They were assuredly not against religious symbols or religious expression. Our history is filled with them. Or, more accurately, it once was. Religious symbols are no longer seen as a wonderful sign of the history of the West and the American founding by the new Judicial Oligarchs. Rather they are seen as a threat to the secularist order. When they are allowed they must be demonstrated to have been eviscerated of any religious meaning and somehow thereby rendered "secular" and acceptable.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two opinions in "Ten Commandment cases" on June 27, 2005 which sent another convoluted message. The Justices (at least five of them) upheld a display of the Ten Commandments on public land if the display is placed within the context of other displays that ...
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