News

US Supreme Court Hears Case on Ten Commandments

U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether public displays of the Ten Commandments on government property are a violation of the U.S. Constitution's ban on the government endorsing religion. The high court heard oral arguments in two cases related to this issue Wednesday.   

Outside the Supreme Court, evangelical Christians gathered to sing and pray in hopes of influencing the nine Supreme Court justices to allow displays of the Ten Commandments to continue in or near government buildings in Kentucky and Texas.

The Texas case involves a granite monument on the grounds of the state capital that contains the complete text of the Ten Commandments, which Jewish and Christian holy books say were given to Moses by God.

But the monument, which has been in place for more than 40 years, faces a legal challenge from those who see the display as a government endorsement of religion. That is prohibited under the separation of church and state guarantee contained in the U.S. Constitution.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is leading the effort to keep the Ten Commandments monument in place. He spoke to reporters after he argued the case before the Supreme Court.

"It is perfectly constitutional for a government to recognize a symbol or a text that is religious so long as it is equally clear that the government is not officially endorsing religion. And that is exactly what has happened here with this Ten Commandments display," Mr. Abbott said.

Arguing against the monument was Duke University Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. He represents a homeless man from Texas who objects to the Ten Commandments display as a religious symbol on government property.

"Of course the government can put the Ten Commandments displays on government property. But it has to do so in a way that does not endorse religion, does not have the purpose of advancing religion," Mr. Chemerinsky said. "I think our position in both cases was that these particular displays, given their context, given their history, is what made them unconstitutional."

The other case involves framed copies of the Ten Commandments that were hung inside two courthouses in Kentucky.

Two hundred 75 members of a Baptist congregation in Kentucky that supports the Ten Commandments display chartered a bus to Washington so they could pray in front of the Supreme Court.

Carter Stewart is the Baptist minister who led the delegation to Washington.

"It is important to us that the Ten Commandments be posted. Number one, simply because it is the word of God and we feel that our nation is founded on the principles of God and Christianity," Mr. Stewart said.

A few meters away, a smaller group of atheists carried signs and shouted slogans demanding that the Ten Commandments displays be removed.

Rick Wingrove is the Virginia director for a group called American Atheists. He was asked what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled that the displays were legal.

"It would mean that the court has done wrong," he said. "They have abandoned the Jeffersonian [President Thomas Jefferson] principles of the Constitution and that Christianity had gained official favoritism in this country, which will be very bad for people like me. People like me, atheists, who have come to a different conclusion about religion than these people have."

The Bush administration supports the effort to maintain the Ten Commandments displays in Texas and Kentucky. In fact, various depictions of the Ten Commandments are common in town squares and courthouses throughout the country, including inside the Supreme Court chamber itself.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue sometime before the end of June.

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs