Liberty Counsel Files Reply Brief Today With United States Supreme Court In Ten Commandments Case

Feb 22, 2005

Today, Liberty Counsel filed its Reply Brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. The Reply Brief is the last document which will be submitted to the High Court before the parties present oral arguments on March 2, 2005. The McCreary case involves the Foundations of Law display in the McCreary and Pulaski County, Kentucky, courthouses, which includes the Ten Commandments along with other historical and legal documents contained in equal-sized frames. The display is a sampling of some of the documents that influenced American Law.

The Reply Brief states that displaying the Ten Commandments in a courthouse is not an establishment of religion; it is a tolerable acknowledgment. The Decalogue is a universally recognized symbol of law. In the 1800s, courts used the symbol of the Ten Commandments so that even the illiterate could recognize legal documents. In the United States Supreme Court, Moses and the Ten Commandments occupy the central position on the East Pediment. The twin tablets in Roman numerals are engraved on the bronze gate and the wooden door leading into the chambers where arguments are heard. On the south frieze inside the chambers, Moses appears again with the Ten Commandments inscribed in Hebrew text. The High Court displays the Decalogue in blank tablets, with Roman numerals and with text. The seal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has contained the Ten Commandments for more than 100 years. The Decalogue appears in the District of Columbia federal courthouse and in countless other courts.

The Reply Brief argues that the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in the Foundations of American Law and Government displays in McCreary and Pulaski counties is constitutional under the Court's past precedent. However, the brief also proposes that the Court adopt a new test regarding governmental acknowledgments of religion. The current legal standard for judging church/state issues, known as the Lemon test, has proved unworkable and does not provide adequate guidance for the lower courts.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, will be presenting oral argument before the Supreme Court in the McCreary case. Staver commented: "Government acknowledgment of religion is different than government establishment of religion. It is nonsense to suggest that the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in a Foundations of Law display establishes a religion. If the Ten Commandments are deemed unconstitutional, then sandblasting companies will be very busy resurfacing the architecture of countless buildings, starting with the United States Supreme Court. Displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses no more establishes religion than does the National Motto on our currency."