Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court rules against 10 Commandments displays Updated

Anyone who is surprised by this ruling hasn't been paying attention to the advance of the thin-skinned condition of our society over the past few decades. Nothing is displayed or said any more as a celebration of an idea or as honoring the contributions to current society of a given thing. It's brutal, in-your-face advocacy and a demand - nay, a threat - that you adhere or else. The display of the 10 Commandments is an acknowledgement of the contributions of the earliest of laws to our current legal structure. They were the laws imparted to a civilization that formed a large chunk of the foundation of our own and continues to be a basis for the majority of our populace. The basis of this decision is that some people feel they are "pressured" by the visual presence of a display of those commandments. Sad. Even more sadly predictable.

I'll have links to the decision as soon as they're made available.

Update: Here's a link to the story at the Washington Times.

:::::::: WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.

The 5-4 decision, first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion's place in public life, took a case-by-case approach to this vexing issue. In the decision, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.

In a stinging dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia worried publicly about "the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority."

The justices voting on the prevailing side Monday left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

"The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.

"When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality," he said.

Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc - Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor, who provided the swing vote.

In his dissent, Scalia argued that Ten Commandments displays are a legitimate tribute to the nation's religious and legal history.

Government officials may have had a religious purpose when they originally posted the Ten Commandments display by itself in 1999. But their efforts to dilute the religious message since then by hanging other historical documents in the courthouses made it constitutionally adequate, Scalia said.

In his dissent, Scalia blasted the majority for ignoring the rule of law to push their own personal policy preferences.

"What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle," Scalia wrote.

So, now these 5 Justices are saying it's not even appropriate to display the 10 Commandments as a historical document alongside of other historical documents? How do you justify that position and still say the decision isn't anti-Christian? If the document is displayed as a part of a historical tribute to documents dealing with the law, then the only aspect that you'd be looking at to see a separation is the fact that it's a document derived from and originated within a Judeo-Christian culture. Use that criteria to deny its inclusion in such a display and you're being anti-Christian.

The ruling, as I said, doesn't surprise me in the least, for all kinds of reasons. I'm with Scalia on this one. The Justices ruling in the majority are letting their preferences get in the way of their judgement. Only this time, the rest of us pay for it. Again.