Handing the ACLU a significant defeat, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held today that a display of the Ten Commandments together with other historical documents in Mercer County, Kentucky, is constitutional. Liberty Counsel represents Mercer County. Liberty Counsel also represented Elkhart County, Indiana, in which the Seventh Circuit earlier this year upheld an identical Ten Commandments display. Liberty Counsel also represented two Kentucky counties, McCreary and
Pulaski, before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year involving the same display.
This case began when the ACLU sued Mercer County for its “Foundations of American Law and Government” display in the county courthouse that contained the Ten Commandments. The display included 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 U. S. Constitution, and a picture of Lady Justice.
Today the Sixth Circuit adopted the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit in Books v. Elkhart County, a Liberty Counsel case where the Seventh Circuit upheld an identical display to that in Mercer County. The Sixth Circuit stated, “Our concern is that of the reasonable person. And the ACLU, an organization whose mission is ‘to ensure that … the government [is kept] out of the religion business,’ does not embody the reasonable person.” The Court’s opinion also rejected the ACLU’s “repeated reference to ‘the separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”
Today’s decision begins to turn the tide against the ACLU, which has been on a search and destroy mission to remove all vestiges of our religious history from public view. Whether the ACLU likes it or not, history is crystal clear that each one of the Ten Commandments played an important role in the founding of our system of law and government. Federal courts are beginning to rightfully reject extreme notions of "separation of church and state." It's about time that courts begin interpreting the Constitution consistent with its original purpose. With the changing of personnel at the U.S. Supreme Court, the trend toward a more historical approach to the First Amendment is well underway. This case should be used as a model for other counties wishing to display religious documents and symbols, including the Ten Commandments. It’s absurd to think that displaying the Ten Commandments is unconstitutional. The Ten Commandments is a universally recognized symbol of law. Our laws, and our notions of right and wrong, have been shaped by the Decalogue.