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Display with Ten Commandments Ruled Constitutional by Court of Appeals

January 14, 2010

Cincinnati, OH – Today in ACLU v. Grayson County, Kentucky, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a display including the Ten Commandments in Leitchfield, KY, on the second floor of Grayson County’s courthouse. The display is entitled “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, with an explanation of the significance of each. 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.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, presented the winning oral argument on behalf of Grayson County in April 2009. The case began in 2002 when the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Grayson County, and a federal judge ruled against the display. The display is identical to the displays at issue in the ACLU’s lawsuits against McCreary and Pulaski Counties in Kentucky, which Staver argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

In 2005, this same Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the same Ten Commandments display in Mercer County, KY, which Liberty Counsel also defended. The Sixth Circuit governs Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. Notwithstanding this identical and controlling precedent, the federal judge entered a permanent injunction against the Grayson County display. Today’s decision reversed and upheld the display. Since 2005, when Staver argued in favor of the same Foundations Display for McCreary and Pulaski Counties, four federal courts of appeal, including the decision today, have upheld the Ten Commandments. Three of these four involve the same Foundations Display and have been represented by Liberty Counsel. Since 2005, every federal court of appeals which has addressed Ten Commandments displays has upheld them. The ACLU has not won a Ten Commandments case at the court of appeals level since 2005.

Commenting on the case, Staver said: “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. 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. I am sure the ACLU will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review this case. The ACLU has been running from the Supreme Court since 2005 and has taken loss after loss on the Ten Commandments.”