LONDON, Ky. (CN) – Thou shalt not post the Ten Commandments all over the courthouse, the ACLU told a county judge. The same ACLU office that successfully took the issue of public display of the Ten Commandments to the U.S. Supreme Court wants Judge William O. Smith to take down the nine framed copies of the Ten Commandments from the Jackson County Courthouse.
Judge Smith posted the Biblical dicta at the courthouse’s front and back entrances and in several offices and passageways. The displays have been in place since 1999, the ACLU says.
When the group argued a similar case against McCreary County in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public displays of the Ten Commandments must have a secular purpose or context to be constitutional. But the plaintiffs say that “there is no indication that the Fiscal Court authorized the Ten Commandments displays for any secular purpose, nor that the Court’s predominant purpose was anything other than the advancement of religion.”
The Commandments are hanging in “stand-alone displays unconnected by proximity or theme to any other framed documents or displays,” the ACLU says.
Members of the ACLU are forced to look at the overtly religious displays whenever they renew a license or pay their taxes, the lawsuit claims, and this exposure “is direct and unwelcome, in that each ACLU member perceives these displays as an unmistakable message of religious endorsement by Jackson County in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
The co-plaintiff is local resident Eugene Phillips Jr. He and the ACLU of Kentucky seek declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction. They are represented by William Sharp, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky.