ACLU Sues Over Ten Commandments in Courthouse, Saying Biblical Text Violates Religious Liberty

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
March 12, 2001 12:00 am

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CLEVELAND, OH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today filed a federal lawsuit saying that a poster of the Ten Commandments in a local county courthouse violates the First Amendment mandate of separation between church and state.

“The display of so plainly a religious image as the Ten Commandments in a public building is a textbook violation of the First Amendment,” said Sara DeCaro, a Cleveland attorney who is handling the case as a volunteer for the ACLU. “To display a sacred text in a courtroom promotes one religion over another, something that, under our system, the government cannot do.”

Federal courts have routinely ruled that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in county courthouses and other public buildings.

The poster in question is over eight feet tall and appears on the wall of a courtroom in the Richland County office building in the town of Mansfield, which is midway between Columbus and Cleveland.

The ACLU lawsuit does not seek money damages. Rather, it asks the federal court to order the removal of the poster and to forbid the county from displaying such religious images in public buildings.

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