GOD IN THE VOTING BOOTH: Voters make decision involving Ten Commandments and public display


Two stone tablets with the ten commandments inscribed on them on an isolated background.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - On Tuesday, voters will decide whether they want to add language to the state constitution which will allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property, under certain circumstances. If it passes, the Ten Commandments must be displayed among other historical or educational materials. 

Currently, there is no state law specifically addressing the display of the Ten Commandments. The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama believes this is an unnecessary measure.

“The amendment is totally useless to the extent that you can post it constitutionally,” Randall Marshall, ACLU of Alabama’s executive director, said. “A school district could do that today.”

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, the state’s leading voice for the public display of the Ten Commandments, said he thinks it’s important for people to see them.

“Certainly the Ten Commandments can’t harm society, they can only help society,” Moore said.

Fifteen years ago, Moore was stripped of his seat on the bench after denying an order from a federal judge. The judge ordered the removal of the 5,280 pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building in 2003.

“It was a legal fight, it was a moral fight, it was a fight of faith, it was a fight of the constitution,” Moore explained.

Under federal law, people can display the Ten Commandments in public places if it is accompanied by educational or historical pieces. Moore thinks it should go further, but he gives this amendment his blessing.

“Basically, it’s not about the Ten Commandments,” Moore said. “It’s about the acknowledgement of the God of the Holy Scriptures.”

This amendment prohibits any public money from being used in defending this amendment. That could be a sticky situation for a school if this measure was challenged in court.

“When a school district posts the Ten Commandments thinking somehow they can do it, they’ll get sued,” Marshall explained. “They will be on the hook for not only their attorney’s fees, but if they lose, the attorneys fees of the challenger. That could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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