Appeals Court Refuses to Rehear Ky. Commandments Case

A court of appeals on Friday denied the request of the American Civil Liberties Union to rehear a case on the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments display in Kentucky.

The Sixth District Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their January ruling in the case of ACLU v. Grayson County, Kentucky, in which they said Grayson County's courthouse could keep a display that included the Ten Commandments.

The display, located on the second floor of Grayson County's courthouse, is titled "Foundations of American Law and Government" and includes the Ten Commandments, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, Star-Spangled Banner, National Motto, and a picture of Lady Justice.

The display is meant to be an educational tool that shows some of the documents that played a significant role in the development of the legal and government system of the United States.

In 2001, however, the ACLU of Kentucky filed a lawsuit against Grayson County, arguing that the government should "not endorse any one form of religion but [endeavor] to accommodate a plurality of ideas and beliefs."

Though a federal judge ruled against the display, the appeals court later reversed the ruling.

"The Ten Commandments is as much at home in a display about the foundation of law as stars and stripes are in the American flag," said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, who delivered the oral argument for Grayson County in April 2009. "The Ten Commandments are part of the fabric of our country and helped shape the law. It defies common sense to remove a recognized symbol of law from a court of law."

Staver added, "The ACLU might not like our history and might run from it, but the fact remains that the Ten Commandments shaped our laws and may be displayed in a court of law."

In 2005, Staver argued a similar case involving Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky's McCreary and Pulaski Counties before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled them unconstitutional. He also defended several other Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky counties in recent years.

Since 2005, every federal court of appeals that has addressed Ten Commandments displays has upheld their constitutionality. The ACLU has not won a Ten Commandments case at the court of appeals level in five years.