Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lawsuit Challenges Schools' Ten Commandments Displays

The ACLU of Virginia announced yesterday that it had filed suit in federal district court on behalf of a high school student and the student's parent challenging the posting of Ten Commandments displays in the Giles County, Virginia Public Schools. The complaint (full text) in Doe 1 v. School Board of Giles County, (WD VA, filed 9/13/2011) recounts the sequence of events which led to the filing of the Establishment Clause challenge. For over 10 years, a copy of the Ten Commandments had been displayed in each school. When the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed an objection, the superintendent removed the displays and replaced them with copies of the Declaration of Independence.  However, this led to widespread community objections which, eventually, led to the school board by a split vote authorizing the posting of a broader display that includes the Ten Commandments, a picture of Lady Justice, the Star-Spangled Banner, the Bill of Rights,, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, and the Magna Carta. (See prior posting.) The complaint alleges that this history demonstrates that any alleged secular purpose for the displays is a sham. AP reports on the filing of the lawsuit.