London, KY – Liberty Counsel will appeal this morning’s ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which allows a permanent injunction against three displays of the Ten Commandments at the local courthouses in both McCreary and Pulaski County, KY. This 2-1 decision found that the purpose of the displays was religious, rather than educational, and therefore violated the Establishment Clause.
The dissenting opinion, written by Judge James L. Ryan, recommends a rehearing in front of the full Sixth Circuit panel of judges, based on multiple rulings with different outcomes. He wrote, “Perhaps the panel’s decision in this case, taken together with this court’s decisions in ACLU v. Mercer County…and ACLU v. Grayson County …will move our court to reconsider en banc what my colleagues have held today, from which I strongly dissent.”
Judge Ryan continues, “I cannot be too critical of my panel colleagues who feel stare decisis bound by the Supreme Court majority’s persistent hostility to religion and its refusal to acknowledge the historical evidence that religion, religious symbols, and the support of religious devotion were the very essence of the values the Constitution’s authors and the ratifying legislators thought they were preserving in the language of the First Amendment.”
The Sixth Circuit governs Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan. In 1999, McCreary County and Pulaski County in Kentucky erected framed copies of the Ten Commandments for display in their courthouses. A lawsuit was filed against them, arguing that the Ten Commandments were displayed for religious purposes and were a violation of the First Amendment. In 2005, this same Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar display of the Ten Commandments in Mercer County, KY, which Liberty Counsel also defended. However, the ACLU was persistent in filing multiple motions with the court calling for a permanent injunction. The counties have since issued multiple resolutions in an attempt to place themselves within the bounds of the First Amendment.
Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “This battle is far from over. The Ten Commandments are part of the fabric of our country and helped shape our laws. They are as much at home in a display about the foundations of law as stars and stripes are in the American flag. The Founding Fathers would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments.”