An atheist and agnostic group filed a federal lawsuit against the Connellsville Area School District over a large plaque of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the junior high school.As I wrote sometime ago, this monument is unconstitutional.
Currently, the five-foot monument is covered by a wooden board. A school district attorney declined to comment, but many residents have asked the district to fight requests to remove it.
The nearby Connellsville Church of God has offered to prominently display the monument and light it up at night.
The Rev. Nelson Confer told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that there's a deal to allow the school to use church property although they don't own it.
However, the lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation also seeks to prevent the monument from being displayed by the church because it's next to some school athletic fields and might be seen by students.
And that's not a "Rand Paul deciding what's unconstitutional despite being completely at odds with a Supreme Court decision" sort of assertion. It's the actual Supreme Court saying that displays of the 10 Commandments on public school grounds is unconstitutional.
But take a look at those last two paragraphs from TAE.
Depending on what they actually mean, it could be troubling. I've written that the monument should be moved to the church grounds. What's all this about preventing the church from displaying the commandments on church grounds?
That's the troubling part. If it's church property, the church should be able to do whatever they wanted with it. Point it in whatever direction they want to point it in.
Here's what the lawsuit has to say about it. From the Introduction:
Since 1957, the Connellsville Area School District (“District”) has maintained a monument of the Ten Commandments in front of one of its schools in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. District students come into contact with the monument while attending or visiting Connellsville Area Junior High School. The Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the District practice of displaying the Ten Commandments in front of its public school is unconstitutional, an injunction requiring the Ten Commandments to be moved away from public school property, nominal damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. [Emphasis added.]The confusion, I think, comes from this part:
40. Upon information and belief, the District received or solicited an offer from Connellsville Church of God to accept the monument and display it next to Connellsville Area Senior High School.And this part from the end which almost matches the text of the introduction:
41. Upon information and belief, the proposed arrangements with Connellsville Church of God would place the Ten Commandments monument on the edge of the Church of God property, which borders the high school and one of its athletic fields.
42. Upon information and belief, the District rents and uses an athletic field owned by the Connellsville Church of God. The church field borders a Connellsville Area Senior High School athletic field. [Emphasis added.]
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request the following relief from this Honorable Court:Ah - "other property utilized by the District". That would be, I take it, the land rented by the District and owned by the Church and used as an athletic field.
A. A declaration that the Defendants’ maintenance, display, and presence of the Ten Commandments monument on District property is unconstitutional;
B. A permanent injunction directing the District to remove the Ten Commandments and requiring that the Ten Commandments monument not be relocated near District property, including Connellsville Area Junior High School, Connellsville Senior High School, and other property utilized by the District; [Emphasis added.]
I still think this is iffy. If it's church property, the church can do what it wants with it.
Though a clue might be found in the penultimate sentence from TAE's reporting:
The Rev. Nelson Confer told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that there's a deal to allow the school to use church property although they don't own it. [Emphasis added.]The District is still banned from pushing a non-secular set of ideas onto the school students. That being said, the District should not be "using" church property to push religion onto its students.
This is echoed, actually, from something from the law suit:
Arrangements to move the Ten Commandments monument to the Connellsville Church of God so that it is in direct view of District students, including students who cannot avoid it when playing on athletic fields, would have the primary effect of advancing religion.Yea, still iffy. But if The District is moving the monument to the church to advance religion then it's wrong. If the District is moving the monument from school grounds to the church in order to avoid any more constitutional entanglements, allowing the church to do with it want it will, then I guess it's not.
That last part's for the judge to decide.
In any event the monument still has to go.