Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kentucky's Required Display of Findings On God Violate Establishment Clause

In American Atheists, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, (Franklin KY Cir. Ct., Aug. 26, 2009), a Kentucky trial judge struck down a provision in state law requiring the state Department of Homeland Security to promote and display specified findings of the state legislature. The findings include a statement that: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God...." The court concluded that the requirement that these findings be included in agency training and educational material and displayed on a sign at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center violates the federal Establishment Clause and Sec. 5 of the Kentucky Constitution. It said:
The nature of this statute is much more than an acknowledgement that people have historically looked to God for protection. The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God.... Effectively the General Assembly has created an official government position on God.
McClatchy Newspapers and the Louisville Courier Journal reported on the decision, as did a release from American Atheists.

UPDATE: The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that on Sept. 4 the state filed a notice of appeal in the case as well as a motion to stay enforcement of the trial court's ruling pending appeal.