High Court: Okla. Commandments Display Is Not OK

The Ten Commandments must be removed from an Oklahoma courthouse lawn, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has passed over an appeal requesting that the monument remain.

A Commandments display was erected on the Haskell County courthouse grounds in 2004. A federal court upheld the religious symbol, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The Stigler, Okla., display featured the Commandments on one side and the text of the Mayflower Compact on the other. It carried a line reading, “Erected by Citizens of Haskell County.”

Americans United filed an amicus brief with the appeals court in January 2007, arguing that Religious Right organizations are using governmental Commandments displays to project a message of religious exclusion and intolerance in violation of the First Amendment’s religious liberty provisions. The brief concluded that “after a decade-long campaign to reclaim America from religious heterogeneity, the Christian Right has transformed the Commandments into a potent symbol of Christian supremacy – and ergo, a symbol of the inferior status of non-Christians in the political and legal spheres.”

County officials appealed Haskell County Board of Commissioners v. Green to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined without comment to intervene in the case in a one-line order March 1.