Tuesday, October 12, 2004

In Case You Need Any Extra Commandments 

The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on two cases involving government-sponsored displays of the Ten Commandments:
The first concerns a six-foot granite monument just outside the Texas Capitol in Austin. A gift from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1961, it stands in the vicinity of several other monuments, including memorials to Texas war veterans. The commandments proclaim, "I AM the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

The case has an unusual history. Thomas Van Orden, a former criminal defense lawyer who became homeless after suffering psychological ailments, sued the state and argued his own case.

"I didn't sue religion," Van Orden, 59, said. "I sued the state for putting a religious monument on Capitol grounds." Though he lost in the federal courts, the Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal.

The second case arose when judges in three eastern Kentucky counties decided in 1999 to post copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. The American Civil Liberties Union sued them and won, but the high court agreed to hear the appeal from the judges.

Neither case directly involves a classroom. In 1980, the high court struck down a Kentucky law that called for posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

The cases also do not involve Roy Moore, the Alabama justice who was ousted after he defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state supreme court building. On several occasions, including last week, the Supreme Court has turned away appeals from Moore.

The high court has been closely split on the issue of religion, and the outcome in the new cases probably depends on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In the past, she has asked whether the government's action appears to endorse religion. If so, she has voted to strike it down.
We have always been willing to roll with public display of the Ten Commandments -- as long as the rest of Mosaic law is placed on exhibit alongside them. It's all God's law; why pick and choose?

With that in mind, here's a meager sampling of the important Biblical precepts you might expect, under our plan, to find on the wall of your local courthouse:Normally we would include the traditional chapter-and-verse citations, but that would make it too easy for you to spot the ringer. Can you guess which of the above is not taken verbatim from the King James translation of the Pentateuch?

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