A Ten Commandments monument on display at the courthouse in Dixie County, Florida, may stay in place for now, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled August 15 as it sent an ACLU lawsuit against the display back to a lower court for reconsideration.
As previously reported by The New American, in July 2011 a U.S. district court ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments display, placed at the courthouse in 2006 by resident Joe Anderson using his own money, after the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a tourist who saw the display and was offended at its religious intent. In addition to the Decalogue, the display includes the simple admonition, “Love God and keep his commandments.” The plaintiff in the case, referred to as “John Doe,” claimed that the monument was a major factor in his decision against purchasing property in the county.
In vacating the lower court decision, the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit ruled that the plaintiff lacked legal standing to sue the county. Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel, the conservative legal advocacy group representing the county in the case, applauded the decision, predicting that the case would ultimately be dismissed, allowing the county to keep the display. “You can’t just swing through town and file a lawsuit over a Ten Commandments monument,” Staver said, adding that “the people of Dixie are supportive of this monument. And they are much opposed to the ACLU.”
Staver argued that Dixie County “should be applauded, not sued, for fostering open and robust speech in a public forum. Rather than take advantage of the forum, the ACLU prefers to censor speech with which it disagrees.” Staver pointed out that the Ten Commandments are a universally recognized symbol of the law upon which America was founded, and can be found at courthouses and public squares across America, as well as in the nation’s very judicial center. “There are more than 50 depictions of the Ten Commandments at the U.S. Supreme Court, and there have been thousands of displays throughout the country for many years,” he said.
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Photo of Ten Commandments monument outside courthouse in Dixie County, Florida: AP Images