ACLJ Defends Ten Commandments Monument Before Appeals Court

An ACLJ lawyer tells an appeals court that the display of a Ten Commandments monument in the corner of a park does not violate the constitution.
( [email protected] ) Sep 16, 2004 08:02 PM EDT

The American Center for Law and Justice argued before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 15 that the Ten Commandments display in the corner of a park is not a government endorsement of Christianity and should not be removed.

The Ten Commandments monument was a gift from Fraternal Order of Eagles and sits in the corner of a park in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. FOE also donated thousands of other Ten Commandment monuments to cities around the nation during the 1950s and 1960s.

In April, a three-judge appeals court panel ruled the display of the monument violated the constitutional separation of church and state but vacated its ruling to allow its full panel to review the case.

A lawyer representing the plaintiff who only wanted to be identified as John Doe said the Plattsmouth monument is “ample evidence of a Christian purpose.”

According to the plaintiff, he has to see the monument on his way to work everyday and during public events. But some judges question if that is a valid reason to remove the monument.

Chief Judge James Loken said, "That's not injurious - he doesn't have to read the words."

Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, who presented oral arguments on behalf of the city on Wednesday, told the court the display is in a far corner of the 44-acre park and the city does not pay for its upkeep.

"We were able to present our case in a manner that urged the court to view the monument in Plattsmouth as a reflection of the history and heritage of our nation - a monument that does not violate the constitution,” said Manion. “We are hopeful the appeals court reaches that conclusion."

The full appeals court is expected to announce rule on the case in several weeks.

The ACLJ is also defending Ten Commandments displays in other states. Last week, the group presented arguments in a case involving another Ten Commandments display belonging to FOE. In another The group has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear case involving the display of Ten Commandments monuments and other historical documents outside schools in Adams County, Ohio.