Liberty Counsel Files Brief in Kentucky Ten Commandments Case

Jan 12, 2009

Cincinnati, OH – Liberty Counsel filed a brief at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of the Foundations of American Law and Government display, which includes the Ten Commandments. Liberty Counsel represents McCreary and Pulaski Counties in Kentucky. These are the same cases Liberty Counsel argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. The cases returned to the trial court following the Supreme Court’s decision, since the High Court only ruled on the preliminary injunction.

The ACLU filed suit in 1999 against the "Foundations of American Law and Government" display, which contained the Ten Commandments, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Charta, the Star-Spangled Banner, the National Motto, the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, and a picture of Lady Justice.

In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court heard the McCreary County v. ACLU case, along with a Texas case, and issued split decisions on the Ten Commandments. In the Texas case of Van Orden v. Perry, the Court upheld a Ten Commandments monument that was on the state capital grounds without any controversy for about forty years. In the Kentucky case, the Court ruled that the prior actions of the county officials, when they erected a stand-alone display of the Ten Commandments, indicated the county officials had a predominately religious purpose in erecting the displays.

Since that opinion was released, however, the composition of the Court has changed. Justices Roberts and Alito have replaced Justices Rehnquist and O’Connor. It is likely that a different result will be reached if the McCreary case reaches the High Court again. Moreover, since the 2005 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the exact same Foundations of American Law and Government display. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld the same display. In both cases Liberty Counsel represented the government agencies.

Despite the change of justices and the two court of appeals’ decisions upholding the same displays, Kentucky District Court Judge Jennifer Coffman’s final ruling, after issuing one equivocal ruling, struck down the displays. Liberty Counsel then appealed the ruling.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The ACLU’s Ten Commandments clearinghouse agenda will hit rough waters when the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. The tide has turned at the High Court. Since 2005 the ACLU has lost three consecutive Ten Commandments cases at the appellate court level. They have refused to ask the Supreme Court to take these cases, because they know that Court is no longer hostile to the Ten Commandments. Anyone with a little background in the history of America knows that the classic example of the rule of law is at home in a court of law.”