Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit against Ten Commandments Display
This column by ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Ken Klukowski was published February 15, 2013 on Breitbart.com.
The Ten Commandments won in federal court this week in Dixie County, FL, which adopted a policy that allows any of its citizens to erect a display atop the county courthouse’s steps. A local Christian man paid to put a six-ton (12,000 lbs.) stone Ten Commandments display there in 2006.
The ACLU sued on behalf of an anonymous North Carolina ACLU member who said he planned to buy property in that area and had to see the display when he went to the county courthouse. Some doubted his claimed intentions, as there was little evidence to support the idea that he seriously planned on making such a purchase.
His claim was essential to this case, because in order to file a federal lawsuit, Article III of the Constitution requires that a plaintiff have standing. One of the three requirements for standing is that the plaintiff must have suffered an actual, concrete injury that is different from the public at large.
A person having to see a Ten Commandments display when dealing with the government is a weak claim that would not be considered an “injury” in any other area of constitutional law, but a liberal Supreme Court precedent from 1968 opened the door for such lawsuits involving religion.
The county was defended by Liberty Counsel, led by Mat Staver. On Feb. 13, 2013–after years of litigation–once the plaintiff finally admitted that he would not be buying a piece of property in that county after all, U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing.
Ten Commandments displays have accompanied county courthouses since the founding of the Republic, and the Ten Commandments are displayed with the U.S. Supreme Court, along with Moses close to the ceiling, and in bronze along the pillars and crimson curtains that surround the courtroom. With the lawsuit dismissed, this Ten Commandments display will stay where it is for the foreseeable future.