Liberty Counsel



Liberty Counsel Files Brief With The United States Supreme Court In Kentucky Ten Commandments Case

Washington, D.C. – Today, Liberty Counsel filed its Initial Brief with the United States Supreme Court in the Kentucky Ten Commandments case known as McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. The Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments display and to reconsider the often-maligned, so-called Lemon test developed by the Court in the 1960s and 70s. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, is the lead counsel who will argue the case in February 2005. A decision is expected by June 2005.

The case involves the Foundations of Law display in the McCreary and Pulaski County courthouses which include the Ten Commandments along with nine other historical and legal documents. The display is a sampling of some of the documents that influenced American law and government. The 50-page brief argues that the display passes every Establishment Clause test created by the Court, including the Lemon test. The brief also urges the Court to abandon the Lemon test since it has caused confusion and suggests that the Court create a new test for governmental acknowledgments of religion, such as the Ten Commandments, Nativity scenes, the Pledge, the National Motto, and every other such acknowledgment of religion.

The brief states: “Whether alone or in a contextual display of law as here, the Ten Commandments are part of our history, have not tended to establish a religion, and are consistent with the First Amendment. It is undeniable that the Ten Commandments influenced American law and government.” The brief also states: “Surely this Court is ‘unable to perceive the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Vicar of Rome, or other powerful religious leaders behind every public acknowledgment of the religious heritage, long officially recognized by the three constitutional branches of government. Any notion that these symbols pose a real danger of establishment of a state church is farfetched indeed.’” The brief argues for a new objective test that comports with history and which “should respect our religious heritage by distinguishing between real establishments and permissible acknowledgments of religion.” The case is the first time in history that the High Court has ever received full briefing on the Ten Commandments.

Staver stated, “One would have to rewrite history to conclude that the Ten Commandments played an insignificant role in American law. The imprint of the Decalogue on the development of Western law is undeniable, and on American law is indisputable. However the Court rules, its decision will affect every Ten Commandments display in the country and may well set the future course for other governmental acknowledgments of religion, like the Pledge of Allegiance. There is a big difference between an establishment of religion, which the Constitution forbids, and governmental acknowledgments of religion, which the Constitution permits.”

Fifteen states have also joined together to file an amicus brief in support of Liberty Counsel’s argument. These include AL, FL, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MS, OH, PA, SC, TX, UT, VA and WY.