ACLU of Ohio Seeks Compliance from School District to Remove Ten Commandments Display from Four High Schools

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
April 3, 2003 12:00 am

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CINCINNATI–Saying that a school district has continued to defy a federal court order issued last year to remove displays of the Ten Commandments from four high schools, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today filed a motion in federal court seeking a contempt order and the district’s compliance.

“This has gone on long enough,” said Scott Greenwood, General Counsel for the ACLU of Ohio. “It is time for the school district to obey the federal court’s order. If they refuse to do so, the court will use its power to force them to comply.”

The ACLU’s case, Berry Baker, et al. v. Board of Education of the Adams County Ohio Valley School District, et al., was filed last year after the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District placed displays of the Judeo-Christian text at four high schools in rural Adams County in southern Ohio.

On June 11, 2002, United States Magistrate Judge Timothy Hogan declared that the display of the Ten Commandments at the four high schools was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment mandate of church-state separation, and ordered them to be removed. Since then, the school district’s appeals have been rejected twice by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

In 1980, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a Kentucky law which required the Commandments to be placed in public school classrooms. Finding the Commandments to be a sacred text to Christians and Jews, the Court held that public schools could not teach students to venerate them without promoting religion in violation of the First Amendment. Despite this ruling, there have been repeated efforts throughout the Midwest in recent years to reintroduce the Commandments in public schools and other public buildings.

“The school district has had their day in court and had the benefit of appeals,” said Raymond Vasvari, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio. “Every day the monuments remain is an affront to the principle that government should not entangle itself with religion.”

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