A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments in a case involving a Foundations of American Law and Government display that was hung in the courthouse in 2001.
The two individuals, Raymond Harper and Ed Meredith, who disagreed with the display, joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union in a court case against the Grayson County Fiscal Court in 2002 and won a temporary injunction. This ruling removed the Commandments from the halls of the courthouse.
In March 2008, United States District Court Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., entered a judgment in favor of the ACLU and the display was permanently removed.
The Foundations of American Law and Government display that is part of the Ten Commandment’s display includes the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Star-Spangled Banner, the National Motto, the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a picture of Lady Justice, with an explanation of the significance of each document.
The purpose of the display is educational and is intended to reflect a sampling of documents that played a significant role in the development of the legal and governmental system of the United States.
Neither the Fiscal Court nor any other Grayson County governmental entity expended any funds or appropriated any monies to have the documents framed or produced. There was no formal ceremony, and no member from the Fiscal Court oversaw or participated in the hanging of the display.
The display is identical to the displays at issue in the ACLU’s lawsuits against McCreary and Pulaski Counties, which Matt Staver argued at the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2005, the same Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the same Ten Commandments display in Mercer County, Kentucky, which Liberty Counsel also defended.
“I feel very good about oral argument with the Court of Appeals,” said Staver. “I was pleased to see one of the judges who had been on the Mercer County case. The ACLU’s argument was that because the display was religious because it was hung by a minister. That is an extreme position.”
Staver said it could take as long as three or four months for the courts decision.
The Sixth Circuit governs Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan.
“The Ten Commandments is as much at home in a display about the foundation of law as stars and stripes are to the American flag. The Ten Commandments are part of the fabric of our country and helped shape the law,” said Stavers. “It defies common sense to remove a recognized symbol of law from a court of law. 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.”
Since 2005, the ACLU has lost every case involving the Ten Commandments at the federal courts of appeals. Two of those involved Liberty Counsel cases, defending the same Foundations of Law and Government display. The third case involved a stand-alone granite monument of the Ten Commandments.