NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Fight Supreme Court Ruling On Ten Command- ments

March 30, 2000

Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court decreed that posting the Ten Commandments in public schools was unconstitutional. But politicians in some state legislatures continue to fight that edict.

  • Legislatures in 12 states have taken up measures this year to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public buildings.
  • In two -- Indiana and South Dakota -- the bills have become law.
  • Last summer, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to allow states to display the commandments.
  • In October, 41 House members signed a pledge to display them on their office walls.

The Supreme Court's 1980 ruling found the postings violate the First Amendment ban on government establishment of religion. In 1994, the court let stand lower court rulings holding that the commandments should be removed from courthouses.

Legislators who want the commandments reinstated hope to get around that by passing laws that promote display in an historical -- rather than religious -- context. They would be posted among such secular historic documents as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Source: Larry Copeland, "Morality Makes a Stand," USA Today, March 30, 2000.


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