July 14, 2004

Courtroom Display Was Religious, Not Secular, Appeals Court Rules


CLEVELAND -- In a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, an appeals court today affirmed a lower court ruling that a public courtroom display of the Ten Commandments is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

The ACLU of Ohio filed the lawsuit after Judge James DeWeese hung a poster of the Ten Commandments in his Richland County courtroom in July 2000. In June 2002, United States District Court Judge Kathleen O'Malley declared the display unconstitutional and ordered that it be immediately removed.

In a 2-1 decision today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed, finding that the purpose of DeWeese's display was religious in nature and thus violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The ACLU of Ohio is currently involved in two other Ten Commandments cases. The first, in Adams County in southern Ohio, involves Ten Commandments monuments outside of several area schools. The second, in Lucas County in northwest Ohio, involves a display of the Ten Commandments near the local courthouse.

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