Back in August, I posted about a Ten Commandments monument in the city of Fargo, North Dakota.
It was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1958 and was the only religious monument of its kind on city property. Long story short, it remained there even after two separate legal challenges.
The most recent one involved the Red River Freethinkers offering to pay for their own secular monument to be erected nearby the Ten Commandments one. But rather than allow that to happen, the city council voted on a new policy stating that no one else could put up a monument on the property. If that sounds illegal, that’s because it totally is. In August, however, an Appeals Court ruled 2-1 in favor of the city.
The full court refused to re-hear the case and going to the Supreme Court would have required a lot of money with little chance of even getting them to take on the case… so it was out of the question.
Game over, right?
Now, a seemingly-unrelated concern could take down the monument altogether:
City Administrator Pat Zavoral said the plaza in front of City Hall could be turned into a temporary 70-stall parking lot. Another 10 to 20 stalls could be gained if the Ten Commandments monument and the Civic Center sign is moved, he said.
The monument would be put on display inside the Civic Center attached to the existing City Hall and brought back when construction is done, he said.
City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he worries that moving it even temporarily would weaken the city’s legal position.
What’s gonna happen? Are they afraid they’ll realize moving the monument doesn’t mark the end of the world? Are they worried that it’ll spawn an atheist evil twin when it returns?
Actually, it goes back to the city’s own policy:
During [the legal battle], the City Commission adopted a law that forbade the removal of any marker or monument that has been on city property for more than 40 years. The judge cited this law in dismissing the suit in 2013. An appeals court declined to require a trial in August.
In other words, the law that was supposed to keep the Ten Commandments monument on city property could be its downfall.
Oh, how sweet and hilarious that would be…
City Attorney Erik Johnson said he needed more time to figure out that conundrum.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)