ACLU of NE Asks Appeals Court to Uphold Removal of Ten Commandments Monument from Public Park

Affiliate: ACLU of Nebraska
August 13, 2002 12:00 am

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LINCOLN, NE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska today asked a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling ordering government officials to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a public park in Plattsmouth.

“”Experience tells us that there is nothing more divisive than mixing religion and government,”” said Amy Miller, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nebraska. “”As the lower court noted, the ‘overwhelming religious nature’ of the monument makes it inappropriate for a public park.””

“”The divisive effect of government-endorsed religion was all too obvious in this case,”” Miller added. “”Our client, ‘John Doe,’ required a pseudonym because he feared for his safety in filing this lawsuit.””

Originally filed in May 2001, the ACLU’s lawsuit asked a federal district court to order the removal of the monument from the city-owned park because its presence violates the religious freedom guarantees of the Constitution. The ACLU’s legal brief, filed today before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, cites more than 15 similar cases in which Ten Commandments displays on public property were ordered removed.

The monument in the Plattsmouth case displays the Ten Commandments as well as symbols for Judaism and Christianity. It is one of a group of mass-produced Ten Commandments monuments which were donated to various communities across the country by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in the 1960’s. Today’s case marks the first time the Eighth Circuit has been asked to rule in a case concerning one of these monuments.

In May 2002, a federal court judge ruled that the monument “”sends the message to non-Jews and non-Christians that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and sends an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.””

The City of Plattsmouth appealed that decision, and the ACLU’s legal brief filed today opposes that appeal. Both parties have asked the appeals court to schedule oral arguments for this fall.

The ACLU’s brief is online at

A previous news release about the case is online at /node/11160

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