Wednesday, May 30, 2001

High court rejects Commandment case

Decision could affect similar Tristate battles

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would not hear an appeal in a Ten Commandments case out of Elkhart, Ind., which could affect similar cases in Ohio and Kentucky.

        Elkhart city officials hoped to keep a granite marker bearing the Commandments on the lawn of a city office building, where it has been since 1958. City officials had lost in lower courts.

[photo] Elkhart, Ind. Mayor David Miller in front of the Ten Commandments that have been at the municipal building since 1958.
(Associated Press photo)
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        Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented from the decision along with Jus tices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, writing that the monument “simply reflects the Ten Com mandments' role in the development of our legal system.” The lower court's decision — to take the marker down — will stand.

        In Adams County, Ohio, and Harlan, Ky., religious advocates and ACLU members are waging similar battles in the lower courts.

        In Ohio, the Rev. Ken Johnson, pastor at the Seaman United Methodist Church and a member of Adams County for the Ten Commandments, said the Elkhart opinion was disappointing but didn't affect his case, which centers around granite markers placed in front of four schools.

        In Ohio's case, the Commandments are accompanied by historical documents.

        The Kentucky case is similar, arguing the Com mandments should be posted in the schools along with other historical documents.

        Scott Greenwood, the general counsel for the ACLU Ohio chapter, said the high court's decision was no surprise.

        “It points out the futility of the school district (cases),” Mr. Greenwood said.

        David Bibbee, pastor of the Elkhart City Church of the Brethren, said he agreed with the court's ruling.

        “The place for instruction for the Ten Commandments ... is something that belongs within the domain of the church,” Mr. Bibbee said.

        The Rev. Mr. Johnson said he will continue to fight.


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