Supreme Court rules on Ten Commandments - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Supreme Court rules on Ten Commandments

June 27, 2005

Albany- The United States supreme court heard two cases surrounding the separation of church and state. Both were very fact specific.

"In the Texas case the monument that they had was outside of courthouse. It was one of 17 monuments and 21 historical markers," says Dougherty County superior court Judge Loring Gray.

The high court ruled that the Texas display was within the law, but the justices said no to ten commandments displays in two Kentucky courthouses. Justices said the Kentucky displays crossed the line of separation of church and state.

"Does this mean that you can display the ten commandments outside, but not inside... no not necessarily," says Gray.

Dougherty County superior court judge Loring Gray says the rulings won't create a hard and fast rule as to whether religious displays in other government buildings are constitutional. The rulings are open enough to allow some displays to be deemed part of the nations legal history, such as the one in the supreme court's own chambers.

"As long as you're not imposing a state originated religion then you haven't gone afoul of what the original drafters of the constitution had in mind," says Gray.

In fact, Gray says he would allow a display of the ten commandments in his own courtroom, as long as it was used to portray the nation's legal history.

"Other than the commandment that says that you shall have no other God before me, I think all of the other nine could be found codified in the Georgia criminal law, and if they're not criminal laws, at least they are civil breaches," Gray says.

While the supreme court's rulings won't necessarily set a precedent for other cases to be measured against, Judge Gray says they will provide some context and definition as to what the legal system will view as acceptable.

The last time the supreme court tackled this issue was in 1980 when it struck down a Kentucky law requiring the ten commandments to be posted in classrooms at public schools.

Feedback: news@walb.com