We win

We win

: The Supreme Court rules that 10 commandment displays that tried to sell them violated the separation of church and state, but displays attempting to present religion as part of history are OK. Oh, some will be up in arms, but this appears to be a good ruling that, though fuzzy, stops government from selling religion without banning religion.

Quotes:

Eugene Volokh says: “I have often heard it said that the Ten Commandments are an important part of the foundation of American law, and I think that’s true to a point. But here’s a quick question for you: How many of the Ten Commandments are actually implemented as legally binding obligations under modern American law? (To avoid confusion, let’s focus on the list in Exodus, chapter 20, King James Version, available here.)

It turns out that the answer today is pretty much three, #6 [that is, don’t kill], #8 [don’t steal], \and #9 [don’t lie].”

Coveting thy neighbor’s house is, after all, the basis of the housing bubble.

And John Podhoretz at National Review reflects the confusion about the fuzziness of the ruling:

“Why didn’t the Supremes just say you could display the 10 Cs on Monday, Wed, and alternate Fridays, but not on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Or that they could be viewed inside government buildings, but only on the walls of bathrooms and in janitors’ closets? Has anybody ever advanced this radical opinion — that the five justices in question may be intelligent and thoughtful people individually, but that together they form one blithering idiot?”

  • Mike

    So in a courtroom = bad. But outside a courtroom = OK. Sounds reasonable enough.

  • http://www.focusedperformance.com/blogger.html Frank Patrick

    hmmm…history…how long before someone claims that the Bible reflects history?

  • Right of Center

    sounds like they are in favor of just more litigation.
    So, in a court room would scotch taping a slip of paper to the display which says “The Ten Commandments: an early system of written law.” make it all ok then?

  • http://grokmart.blogspot.com Don Seamons

    I’ve long thought that the proponents of placing Ten Commandments memorials on public land were barking up the wrong tree. It’s not about religion; it’s more about tradition. What reasonable person can argue the fact that Western civilization was based on these 10 declarations?

  • rick_d

    I’ll counter that several of the ten have had little or no impact on the development of western civilization. Where, for example, would our market-driven economy be if we didn’t embrace covetousness? It may be tacky but certainly isn’t against the law.
    In any case, a very murky ruling.

  • http://grokmart.blogspot.com Don Seamons

    Certainly true that covetousness is not against the law. Neither, in most states, is adultery. Others, including honoring one’s parents and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. But the fact remains that the Ten Commandments are the basis for law in this country and most others in the western world. They have a legitimate place on public grounds. Other famous dicta, I would argue, would not — the Lord’s Prayer, for one.

  • factchecker_one_two

    This was actually two rulings. Accuracy counts, even on the internet.

  • http://www.12sides.blogspot.com Horatio

    Seems about right. Although it could be argued that a representation of Moses holding the 10 commandments is “historical,” whereas a simple copy (whether on paper, carved in stone, or otherwise) of the 10 commandments is “establishing” the thing itself.

  • http://www.12sides.blogspot.com Horatio

    And about the 10 commandments being the “basis” for the Western law, couldn’t Hammurabi and Justinian also be considered at least as influential?

  • Linda Edwards

    I don’t of know any US laws prohibiting the worship of false idols. Few laws prohibit taking the Lord’s name in vain. Most “Blue Laws” are a thing of the past. And how many of us “Keep the Sabbath”, it certainly isn’t illegal if we don’t. Honoring your mother and father, though honorable, isn’t legally mandated. Adultry, though cause for divorce, isn’t illegal. As stated above, coveting your neigbors goods/wife, well, that’s pretty much the American way.
    Our economy would collapse without such a notion.
    So our legal system only really recognizes three of the ten commandments that address killing, stealing and lying in certain circumstances. Since all cultures universally probit these, so I don’t see that there’s any basis for the claim that our laws are based on the ten commendments.

  • http://grokmart.blogspot.com Don Seamons

    Fair point that the sixth, eighth and ninth commandments are the only ones still overtly found in American law. But the issue isn’t whether most of the commandments are antiquated today. But the fact is, the Mosaic Law established a “rule of law” and have played a significant role in the establishment of western civilization. While not the only pillar, they are part of our government’s ancestry, which makes them, in my opinion, appropriate for display on government property.

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    Whew, that’s a close one. We almost established a national religion, there.
    It’s always good to preserve our freedom to ban offensive spiritual icons, except when floating in jars of urine, in which case those icons become sacrosanct.
    By the way, it’s come to our attention that courts across the nation have been allowed to flagrantly display heterosexuals. This is obviously an attempt to establish a national sexual identity. From now on, heterosexuals will confine themselves to the alley round back.

  • Linda Edwards

    Hammurabi developed his code about 500 years before the time of Moses, if you accept that Moses lived around the same time as Ramses II, as mentioned in the Bible, around 1250 bc.
    Therefore, the argument could be more accurately made that our laws are based the Code of Hammurabi, not Moses.
    That Moses’ “rule of law” may have played a role, it certainly didn’t play the only role. Therefore, based on this and the fact that only 3 of 10 Commandments are codified uniformly into law throughout the country, does not make a compelling argument for allowing the 10 commandments to be displayed in our government property.
    Carsonfire – zzzzzzzzz.

  • Right of Center

    Linda, How many codes of Hammurabi are on the books in the US? Since we don’t deal in slaves, mina, shekels, and “put-out” eyes the number is zero. So, you’d disqualify the 10 Commandments because only 30% are implimented and confirm the code of Hammurabi as the source of our laws with zero.
    Sounds like bias to me Linda, or perhaps bad logic.

  • Robert

    Don’t steal. Unless, of course, you’re a government entity or rich developer and there’s a nice piece of “private” property you’ve got your eye on….

  • Linda Edwards

    You could argue that as long as any ancient code has laws against killing and stealing, they have had an influence on our own laws.
    The ten commandments have 7 (or 8 depending on how you look at it) that don’t apply to us. So why is your logic that there are parts of the Hummurabi code that don’t apply to us, any more valid than my point that parts (most) of the ten commandments don’t apply to our laws.
    I’m afraid its your own bias that’s showing.
    There’s been a lot of “misinformation” being pushed by the religious right concerning the role religion played in our country’s birth.
    The fact is that the most influential founders of our country (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Payne, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen) were not Christian, they were Deists. And they had a very, very poor opinion of the clergy and institutionalized religion. Deists do not believe man was made in the image of God, they believe in “Nature’s God” (check out the Declaratin of Independence). Deists do not believe the Bible is the written word of God. Therefore, the ten commandments had no relevence to them.
    The Founding Fathers made it abundantly clear how strongly they felt about the role, or lack thereof, that religion should play in government by addressing the issue in Amendment #1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
    Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11: Written during the Administration of George Washington and signed into law by John Adams.
    ìThe government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.î
    Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823
    “One day the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in the United States will tear down the artificial scaffolding of Christianity. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
    From Benjamin Franklinís autobiography:
    ìScarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself î
    ì…Some books against Deism fell into my hands….It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quote to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations, in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.î
    Ethan Allen, From Religion of the American Enlightenment:
    ìDenominated a Deist, the reality of which I have never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian.î
    The religious right feels that as long as they keep repeating the same “misinformation” that this is (apparently by rights) a Christian Nation over and over, somehow fiction will become fact. It’s unfortunate that too often that strategy works. But anyone who is interested in the truth need only to do a little research on their own and they will be enlightened.

  • whodat

    “The Founding Fathers made it abundantly clear how strongly they felt about the role, or lack thereof, that religion should play in government by addressing the issue in Amendment #1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
    So how does posting the ten commandments do this? Furthermore, it’s in the pentateuch, so why the counter on Christianity and not Judaism? The Quran also has a near identical “ten commandments”. So how does it establish religion? Maybe if we could get past the religion we could agree that they are some pretty solid rules to live by.

  • whodat

    Frank, you don’t think the Bible is a historical document? Have you ever looked into textual criticism and the evidence of the manuscripts’ relaibility? Archaelogical evidence of bible places and people? You may not believe it to be the word of God, but it certainly is a trustworthy historical document.

  • Linda Edwards

    Because posting the ten commandments in the public arena give unfair prominance over all other religions, which seems kind of odd considering that Christians had little significant input during the drafting of our country’s most important documents during its inception, the documents that form the basis of our entire system of government.
    It doesn’t matter that you might come into my yard and just stand there, doing nothing, causing no harm. What matters is that you have no right to be there.
    No difference with posting the ten commandments where it doesn’t belong. You have lots and lots of churches, and your own homes, for that.
    Why the counter of Christianity and not Judaism? Or Islam for that matter? Because its the Christians in my country that are constantly trying to force-feed their beliefs on everyone else. So if you don’t like it when they react negatively, then don’t do it.
    I will agree with you that there are some pretty solid rules to live by. I wish more people would, especially the one from the bible,”do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (my favorite). But if you study it, those “solid rules” are addressed uniformly in most other religions.
    Too many extremist Christians seem to think they have a monopoly on righteousness and moral behavior, but in reality, there’s some pretty damned righteous and moral people in the rest of the world, not just from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions.

  • whodat

    ” But if you study it, those “solid rules” are addressed uniformly in most other religions.” That’s the point I made. And unfortunately the “extremists” you speak of are the only ones you’ll see on TV.

  • Linda Edwards

    Whodat, I read those extremist on this site aaalllllll the time. I even know some of them personally. Unfortunately, those are the folks setting the agenda in Washington right now. Even if they aren’t large in number (although I think millions is large), they are huge in influence. If they can influence the selection of the next Supreme Court judge, they’re a power house.
    Apparently I don’t see your point about the “solid rules then. And I don’t think you see mine”. I’m only saying you can’t neccesarily attribute the basis of law in our country to the ten commandments since many cultures/religions have the same, especially when you consider that our most influential founding fathers didn’t even believe in the bible.

  • whodat

    I’m pickin up what you’re layin down and I agree about the basis of our laws–to an extent. I just don’t have a problem with them being posted. While I’m cognizant of the ever dangerous slippery slope, I think these laws transcend religions (well most) and cultures.

  • Linda Edwards

    Hum. Well, I don’t have a problem with basic, universally acceptable good morals/behavior being posted. I saw that everyday in my kids kinderkarten classes.
    But why does it need to be in the form of the ten commandments? Can’t it be presented in a non-religious way? I see inspiring, non-religious monuments on government property all the time. Maybe we just need some creativity in its presentation.
    Just askin.

  • Sandy P

    Not supposed to covet thy neighbor’s wife, never said anything about the daughter.
    And considering the 10 Commandments are Jewish, not Christian, Linda…..

  • Sandy P

    And I’m always interesting in which strand of Christianity, Catholic? Lutheran? Presbyterian? Episcopalian?

  • Linda Edwards

    The Jewish version is a bit different than the Catholic or Protestant. Whose version is correct?
    http://www.biblicalheritage.org/Bible%20Studies/10%20Commandments.htm

  • whodat

    Those from the book of Exodus are the correct laws.