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Counsel Files Brief With The United States Supreme Court In Kentucky Ten
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.