ADL Welcomes Supreme Court Decision To Bar Ten Commandments Display In Courthouses; Expresses Disappointment With Allowing Displays Outside Courthouses on Government Land
New York, NY, June 27, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to bar the display of the Ten Commandments inside two Kentucky courthouses, calling it a victory for separation of church and state. The Court said clearly that a display of the King James Bible version of Ten Commandments in these courthouses was unconstitutional.
The League expressed its disappointment in a related decision upholding the constitutionality of a large granite Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, also containing text from the King James version.
The Court found that Kentucky had an overtly religious purpose and motivation in displaying the Ten Commandments -- a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, while Texas did not.
"There are many places in this country where displays of various versions of the Ten Commandments would be appropriate and welcome, but our government should not be the entity sponsoring such displays," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in welcoming the decision in the Kentucky case. "We deeply respect the religious, cultural and historical significance of the Ten Commandments. But numerous versions of the Commandments exist in the Jewish and Christian traditions, so the display of a particular version risks offending Americans of other faiths and those who are not religious."
Mr. Foxman expressed the League's disappointment with the Texas decision, "because it effectively supports the notion that there is a one-size-fits-all Ten Commandments representing American secular tradition, which is not really true."
In the cases entitled -- Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary v. ACLU – ADL submitted an amicus curiae brief in cooperation with Dr. Phillip A. Cunningham, a highly respected theologian and the executive director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. ADL argued that the Ten Commandments are an inherently religious text that cannot convey merely a secular message. Religious sources and scholarship underscores how the Ten Commandments are a vital expression of religious identity and symbolism – albeit one that is far from uniform or free of controversy.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.