Supreme Court Issues Split Decisions Regarding The Ten Commandments

Jun 27, 2005

Washington, D.C. - Today the United States Supreme Court issued split decisions on the Ten Commandments. In the Texas case of Van Orden v. Perry, the Court upheld a Ten Commandments monument that has been on the state capital grounds without any controversy for about forty years. In the Kentucky case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision which ruled against the Ten Commandments displays. In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Souter, and joined by Justices Stephens, O’Connor, Ginsburg and Breyer, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky which ruled against the Ten Commandments displays. Justice Scalia, joined by Justices Thomas, Rehnquist and Kennedy dissented with Justice Scalia reading his dissent from the bench to emphasize his disagreement with the Court's opinion. In the majority opinion, Justice Souter said that the ruling does not mean that a sacred text can never be integrated into a governmental display on law and history. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, argued the McCreary County case earlier this year before the High Court on March 2.

In the Texas case, the Court issued a fractured plurality decision with no clear rule on the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments. Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy held that the Texas Ten Commandments display was constitutional. Justice Breyer concurred only in the judgment with four other Justices holding that the display was unconstitutional.

The McCreary County case involves two Kentucky courthouses in McCreary and Pulaski Counties where the Ten Commandments is part of a larger display on law. The Van Orden case involves a six-foot-tall, granite monument of the Ten Commandments donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, situated on the state capitol grounds. In addition to representing the Kentucky counties in the McCreary County case, Liberty Counsel filed amicus briefs in support of the Texas Ten Commandments monument in the lower trial and appellate courts.

Mathew D. Staver commented: “Today’s decision is historic and will have a significant impact on the future court decisions regarding the interaction between church and state. The Ten Commandments have become a universally recognized symbol of law because of its influence on our law and notions of right and wrong.” Staver continued: “We are pleased that the Court upheld the Texas Ten Commandments monument. This battle is far from over.” Staver concluded: “The Court should recognize the Ten Commandments are more than an historical relic. The Founders would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments. That the Ten Commandments would be deemed unconstitutional is an insult to the Constitution, to our shared religious history and to our Veterans from whose blood liberty was birthed. Our Constitution need not be amended to remedy today’s decision. Our Constitution is sound. We need to judges who understand the rule of law and who respect the Constitution."