Following Ten Commandments Decision, Oklahoma GOP Wants State Supreme Court Justices Impeached June 30, 2015

Following Ten Commandments Decision, Oklahoma GOP Wants State Supreme Court Justices Impeached

Well, that didn’t take long.

Following the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision today to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol Grounds due to it violation the state Constitution, several Republicans put out a statement calling for those judges to be impeached (where have we heard that one before…?):

Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma (via James Nimmo)

Several state GOP lawmakers today called for judicial reform and for the impeachment of seven state Supreme Court justices who made a political ruling to ban a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The lawmakers include state Reps. Kevin Calvey (R-OKC), Casey Murdock (R-Felt), Lewis Moore (R-Edmond), Dan Fisher (R-Yukon), George Faught (R-Muskogee) and Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher).

“Our state Supreme Court is playing politics by issuing rulings contrary to the Constitution, and contrary to the will of the clear majority of Oklahoma voters,” Calvey said. “These Supreme Court justices are nothing more than politicians in black robes, masquerading as objective jurists. This ruling is the Court engaging in judicial bullying of the people of Oklahoma, pure and simple. It is time that the people chose jurists, rather than letting a tiny special interest group of lawyers at the Oklahoma Bar Association dictate who can and can’t be a judge.”

Calvey, himself an attorney, said the ruling, like others made by the state Supreme Court, has no basis in law.

“The Ten Commandments have undeniable historical significance as a foundation for U.S. law. The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., itself depicts the Ten Commandments. To ban the Ten Commandments from the seat of our state’s government shows that the court is imposing its own elitist political prejudices on the people.”

This wasn’t even a close vote. Even conservative justices said this was wrong. The decision was barely 5 pages long. It included the law (which bans the endorsement of religion on public property) and the obvious statement that the Ten Commandments are religious. Then the justices flipped a table and went home.

This isn’t “judicial bullying.” It’s common sense.

If Calvey wants to argue that the Commandments have historical significance and aren’t about promoting Christianity, he’s welcome to justify each Commandment individually.

That’s exactly what American Atheists did when they filed their own (ultimately unsuccessful) lawsuit against the monument, explaining the problems with each one:

49. The first commandment, if it were part of Oklahoma law, would be unconstitutional, because it would establish, at a minimum, Jewish and Christian monotheism as the law of the land. The very bedrock of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is that the United States does not permit the establishment of a religion, the preference of religion over nonreligion, or the preference of one religion (or a subset of religions) over others.

50. The second commandment listed prohibits the making of “graven images.” However, if this commandment were part of Oklahoma law, it would fail as a violation of citizens’ free speech and expression rights protected under the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. From the foundation of the United States, the making of graven images has been part and parcel of being an American, honoring our Founding Fathers, and honoring the United States.

51. The Ten Commandments Display may also be regarded itself as a “graven image” due to the imagery carved upon it along with the text. Works of art depicted in and around the Capitol building commonly depict various “graven images.”

52. The third commandment, as with the second, would be a violation of the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. A prohibition of taking a name in vain, even of one subset of religion’s “Lord,” would in most cases be a violation of every citizen’s right to free speech and expression.

53. The fourth commandment is essentially a religious test, which would require citizens to remember a particular Sabbath Day and “keep it holy.” Originally, the Sabbath was Saturday. Christians generally have changed it to Sunday, although some Christian denominations consider Saturday the Sabbath. In any case, requiring citizens to engage in a religious practice is inconsistent with the First Amendment’s protection under the Establishment Clause. It would constitute both an establishment of religion, and also a clear restriction on citizens’ free exercise rights. The injunction that citizens must “remember” a Sabbath Day is, also, an invasion of their minds, which if enacted into law would reach the hand of government into the very thoughts of citizens.

54. The fifth commandment requires persons to honor their fathers and mothers without qualification or condition, and implies that failure to do so will result in a person’s shortened longevity. (“Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”) If enacted into law, the fifth commandment would not pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment.

55. The sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth commandments are all commonly understood “wrongs.” Unjustified killing, unconsented adultery, stealing, and lying as a witness, are all commonly understood wrongs for which the law to one degree or another imposes a sanction. These are the only four commandments listed which bear any relation to lawful action by state or federal authorities relative to persons within their jurisdictions.

56. The last commandment listed on the Display imposes another invasion into the human mind. It effectively creates a “thought crime,” wherein the citizenry is enjoined not to “covet” certain items. The items listed include people such as one’s “wife” and “servant” as among “things” like homes and cattle that are possessed by people. Absent is a reference to thy neighbor’s “husband.” If this were part of Oklahoma law, it arguably would fail on Equal Protection grounds, unless torturously interpreted differently than its plain meaning.

So Calvey’s rhetoric is nothing but spite coming from an ignorant politician who doesn’t like the law when it gets in the way of his proselytizing.

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