Ten Commandments Could Result inLong Legal Fight in Alabama

A long legal fight over the Ten Commandments could be in the future for Alabama.  However, if they have to, supporters have indicated they will take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court and foot the bill.

Coming later in the current session, and expected to be passed by the state House of Representatives is a constitutional amendment allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted on all state property, including schools.  Already, with a 26-0 vote the state senate has passed it.  The governor however does not have to sign the measure, since it is an amendment.

Although nearly everyone involved, including opponents, sees an inevitable fight in court, the state is a long way from entering a court battle to post the Commandments.

Sponsor of the bill in the House is state Representative DuWayne Bridges (Republican-Valley) who said, “We anticipate a court challenge, and we are prepared to go to court.”

In 1980, when the Kentucky Legislature mandated the display in state schools, it was the last time the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case involving the Commandments in schools.  However, supporters say, because it would give schools the choice to display the Commandments the Alabama amendment is different.

Representative Bridges said, “ It doesn’t seem like our educational system is working for us.  What would be wrong for young people to read and adopt them?”

The amendment was called “the kind of meaningless symbolism Alabamians love a great deal because the politicians keep giving it to them,” by David Langum, president of the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Dean Young, executive director of the Christian Family Association said, “It wouldn’t be a new thing for me to raise money to fight issues like that.”

Since more conservative judges have been appointed to the federal benches, Young and Bridges said they believe they have a good chance at winning. 

They also said that the U.S. Supreme Court is more conservative than it used to be.

Experts say, the Commandments could be displayed without any other document around them, something that makes it more vulnerable to a challenge under the Alabama amendment.  However, after a school posts the Commandments, any legal fight concerning the amendment would have to start.

Involving religious laws, Alabama has been no stranger to legal fights.  A school prayer bill and a law that allows student-led prayer at school functions has been enacted by the legislature although federal courts struck down both with the Supreme Court disallowing the latter.

(Taylor Bright, “Ala. Could be in for long legal fight over Ten Commandments,” Scripps Howard News Service, February 5, 2002)


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