Last Round in 10 Commandments Fight?

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A state judge on Friday ordered Oklahoma to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds within 30 days, after the state’s fruitless appeals to the state supreme court.
     Oklahoma County Judge Thomas Prince ordered the state to take down the 6-foot-tall stone monument by Oct. 12.
     The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the privately funded monument violates the Oklahoma Constitution prohibition of using public money or property for any church, denomination, religious leader or sectarian institution.
     Bruce Prescott sued the state in 2013, a year after the privately funded monument was installed. State lawmakers authorized it in 2009.
     The Oklahoma Supreme Court declined to apply a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a Ten Commandments monument in Texas did not violate the federal Establishment Clause.
     “The issue in the case at hand is whether the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument violates the Oklahoma Constitution, not whether it violates the Establishment Clause,” the per curiam opinion stated. “Our opinion rests solely on the Oklahoma Constitution with no regard for federal jurisprudence. As concerns the ‘historic purpose’ justification, the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.”
     The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s request for a rehearing on July 27.
     Pruitt claimed the state supreme court ignored the “profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments” and “contradicted previous decisions.”
     Pruitt returned to the trial court on Sept. 4, asking Prince to amend the state’s original answer. Pruitt asked Judge Prince to consider a new religious liberty defense: that the state supreme court ruling “ creates hostility toward religion that violates the U.S. Constitution.”
     After the Friday hearing Pruitt attacked the state supreme court’s “stunningly broad interpretation” of the Oklahoma law that he claimed “violates the balance struck by the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees” of religious freedom.
     “The Legislature should give voters the opportunity to rectify this problem by allowing Oklahomans to vote on removing Article II, Section 5 from the Oklahoma Constitution,” Pruitt said in a statement. “I fully support removal of this provision of the Oklahoma Constitution in order to reconcile the conflict – created by the state Supreme Court’s ruling – between the Oklahoma Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.”
     But it looks like the monument will have to go by Columbus Day.

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