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ACLU challenges Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma capitol

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Oklahoma (ACLU-OK) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in the Oklahoma County District Court seeking the removal [petition for relief, PDF] of a Ten Commandments monument placed prominently in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The ACLU cites [press release] the constitutional prohibition on using state property to support particular religions or sects in support of its petition. The ACLU also argues that the government has trivialized a "deeply sacred" text to Jewish and Christian believers by placing it in a political and secular context. The six foot tall, $10,000 monument was financed [AP report] by Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze [official profile] and his family in 2009.

Ten Commandments displays have been the subject of legal controversy in recent years. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] last August ordered a lower court to reconsider [JURIST report] its decision ordering Florida's Dixie County Courthouse to remove a Ten Commandments monument from its front steps. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] in February 2011 upheld a lower court ruling barring the Ten Commandments [JURIST report] from being displayed in an Ohio courthouse. The Sixth Circuit in June 2010 upheld an injunction against similar displays [JURIST report] in two Kentucky courthouses. A month earlier, the same court denied an en banc rehearing in another case [opinion, PDF] involving the display of the Ten Commandments in a Grayson County, Kentucky, courthouse. The court found the display to be constitutional because it presented a valid secular purpose from the outset. In a 2005 decision, the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of a Ten Commandments display [JURIST report] in a Mercer County, Kentucky, courthouse.

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