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10th Circuit Invalidates Haskell County (OK) Ten Commandments Monument E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A unanimous panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday declared the Haskell Count, Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument unconstitutional, overturning a trial court's ruling. Citing the "unique circumstances" of the case, the court ruled (pdf) that a primary or principal effect of the display was in fact religious. Judge Jerome Holmes wrote:

[W]e conclude that the reasonable observer would have been left with the clear impression—not counteracted by the individual commissioners or the Board collectively—that the commissioners were speaking on behalf of the government and the government was endorsing the religious message of the Monument. . . .

In particular, that observer also would know of the religious motivation—seemingly endorsed by the Board—that led to the installation of the Monument. And the observer would have little information indicating that there was more at play in the Monument’s installation, and the Board members’ efforts to maintain it in the face of clearly voiced Establishment Clause concerns, than the Board’s desire to facilitate the dissemination of a religious (i.e., in their view, Christian) message.

Kudos and congratulations to Mainstream Baptist, Dr. Bruce Prescott, who has been a key critic of this governmental display. Americans United celebrates the decision in a press release here. Tulsa World coverage (which focuses on the relationship between this decision and the monument just enacted by the Oklahoma State Legislature) is here.

 

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