Oklahoma Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Ten Commandments Monument September 19, 2014

Oklahoma Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Ten Commandments Monument

***Update*** (9/27/14): Here’s the judge’s order.

You knew there would be problems when Oklahoma state officials approved a Ten Commandments monument outside the building in 2009 and built it in 2012:

Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma (via James Nimmo)

The ACLU of Oklahoma sued the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission last year saying that it was unconstitutional to have a Christian monument like this on state property:

“We must ensure that Oklahoma welcomes people of all faiths and those of no faith at all,” said Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director. “Our suit asks the court to enforce a simple and fundamental rule — that the government does not get to use its vast power and influence to tell you what you should believe.”

After the lawsuit was filed, the Satanic Temple made nationwide headlines when they said they wanted to donate a monument to be placed in the same area:

A week later, a Hindu group followed, saying they wanted to donate a monument of Lord Hanuman.

That’s when the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission declared a moratorium on all additional monuments:

Chair Trait Thompson, who also serves as senior policy advisory to Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, made the motion proposing the ban. “Earlier the (American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma) brought a lawsuit against the Capitol Preservation Commission regarding the placement of the Ten Commandments monument on the north grounds of the State Capitol. Since that time, the CPC has received numerous requests from individuals and groups seeking to place additional monuments on the grounds.

“At this time, I believe action by the CPC on any of these requests would be premature given that the lawsuit has yet to be decided,” he added.

Well, earlier today, an Oklahoma County judge dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit:

District Judge Thomas Prince granted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission’s request for summary judgment, meaning the case will not advance to trial.

Extensive briefs have previously been filed by both parties in the case, and the judge heard only brief arguments Friday before rendering his judgment.

That means the monument can stay… for now. I haven’t seen the ruling yet, but ACLU officials are already saying they will appeal. Brady Henderson, the group’s Legal Director, stated:

“We respectfully disagree with the decision of the court. The plaintiffs in this case do not seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the State Capitol lawn because they find the text of the monument offensive, but rather because, like many Oklahomans, the Ten Commandments constitute a core part of their sincerely held religious beliefs and it is offensive to them that this sacred document has been hijacked by politicians. We will appeal this decision and ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to find that the Oklahoma Constitution does not give the government the power to cheapen inherently religious texts.

No word yet on whether the moratorium will be lifted anytime soon.

If the Ten Commandments ends up staying on government property, there will undoubtedly be another lawsuit filed if the Preservation Commission says to the Satanists (and other groups) that their monuments cannot go up along the Christian one.

(Thanks to Beau for the link)

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