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.
Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backersi
X
Michael Bowman
July 26, 2015 8:44 PM
Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Underground Streetcar Station In Washington, DC, 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 Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
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 California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
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.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Rise in HIV Infections Worries Ugandan Officials

Uganda had the third-highest number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa last year, reversing its reputation for successfully tackling the epidemic in the 1990s. Although the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS is still half of what it was in the 1980s, the increase in new infections is worrying to health workers. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs