News

    US Supreme Court to Hear Case on Ten Commandments

    The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether displaying the Ten Commandments on government property violates the constitutional ban against official endorsement of religion. The high court will hear oral arguments in two cases Wednesday.

    At issue are public displays of the Ten Commandments in Texas and Kentucky. The Texas monument has been outside the state capitol in Austin since 1961 while the Kentucky case involves framed copies of the Ten Commandments that were placed on the walls of two courthouses in 1999.

    Critics of the displays say they violate the constitutional prohibitions against the government endorsing religion.

    According to Jewish and Christian holy books the Ten Commandments were laws given to Moses by God.

    Douglas Laycock, a professor at the University of Texas Law School, argues that the Ten Commandments primarily represent religious symbolism and should not be prominently displayed on government property.

    "[It] begins with, 'I am the Lord, thy God', and then says, 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me, thou shalt not have any graven images.' That does not sound like law," said Professor Laycock. "That sounds like religion. The first half of the [Ten] Commandments really have no secular equivalents. They are purely and entirely about one's duties toward God."

    Supporters of publicly displaying the Ten Commandments, including the Bush administration, have a different view. They contend that the Commandments symbolize the Judeo-Christian roots that form the foundation of modern legal principles.

    Jay Sekulow, who is with the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm that frequently represents conservative Christian activists, argues that most Americans have already accepted displays of the Ten Commandments in or near numerous government buildings around the country, including the Supreme Court itself.

    "Why is it there? It is because it is a universal symbol of law," he said. "And the Supreme Court has to be careful when it issues its opinions to leave room not only for its own display, but for the tens of thousands of displays in courthouses, county facilities throughout the United States."

    Supporters also argue that the displays of the Ten Commandments are not intrusive for non-believers since people can simply avert their eyes or walk away.

    Legal experts say the key question for the Supreme Court is whether the displays at public buildings constitute government endorsement of religion, which is banned under the constitutional mandate separating church and state.

    The court is expected to rule on the issue by the end of June.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora