What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 23, 2012

A Follow-Up

I wanted to do a brief follow-up on yesterday's blog post.

In case you don't remember, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the New Kensington-Arnold School District about a Ten Commandments monument currently standing on school grounds.

Our friends at the Tribune-Review have picked up the story:
A Wisconsin-based atheist group wants officials to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the front of a New Kensington high school, claiming the display amounts to an "egregious" violation of the separation between church and state.

Freedom From Religion Foundation sent New Kensington-Arnold School District officials a letter this week asking them to remove the stone monument, which the New Kensington Eagles gave to the district more than a decade ago. It sits near the entrance to Valley High School's gymnasium.
And then two competing comments. The first in favor of the letter:
"From my view, this is an unsurprising letter given the law," said Vic Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union. "The Supreme Court decided on this more than 30 years ago."
And the second a bit more neutral:
"The court would have to consider whether or not the display represents the intent on the part of a public body -- the school district -- to promote religion," said Bruce Antkowiak, law professor at St. Vincent College.

Antkowiak noted a challenge to a Ten Commandments display at the state house in Austin, Texas, that ended with the Supreme Court ruling the display's significance was historical and not intended to advance a religious cause so it could remain.

"If this would go to litigation -- if they can't work something out -- I'm sure that's what the school board is going to be arguing -- that this is a matter of almost a historical anomaly and wasn't erected for the purpose of promoting any religious group or value," he said.
The only problem with using Can Orden V Perry (the case Antowiak cited above) is that Justice Breyer in his concurring opinion stated:
This case, moreover, is distinguishable from instances where the Court has found Ten Commandments displays impermissible. The display is not on the grounds of a public school, where, given the impressionability of the young, government must exercise particular care in separating church and state.
The monument still needs to be taken down.

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