Other campuses: Supreme Court wrong again

By Daily Texan

(U-WIRE) AUSTIN, Texas – Halfway between the working center of our state’s government and the Texas Supreme Court building, six feet of granite on the lawn of the Texas Capitol proclaim to a diverse stream of visitors every day: “I AM the LORD thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that the Texas Ten Commandments monument does not violate the First Amendment clause against a state establishment of religion.

The reasoning behind this majority decision was the inclusion of the monument in a loose scattering of other statues on the grounds honoring war veterans, Texas archetypes such as the cowboy and even a mini-Statue of Liberty.

Supposedly, surrounding the religious text in enough historical context makes its display acceptable to the court.

This is the razor thin technicality dividing the Texas case from the Kentucky case, where in another 5-4 decision on the same day the Court outlawed the display of the Commandments in a Kentucky county courtroom.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The Kentucky Commandments were declared unconstitutional because they were displayed by themselves on a courtroom wall. Only after the Kentucky chapter of the ACLU brought suit were they surrounded sporadically by other religious and non-religious documents in an attempt to reduce their significance.

With such flimsy decisions, the courts have offered no solid precedent for the display of the Commandments, and the issue will continue to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

But the dissenting justices in the case know the court isn’t kidding anyone.

In a scathing dissenting opinion on the Kentucky case, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle. That is what prevents judges from ruling now this way, now that – thumbs up or thumbs down – as their personal preferences dictate.”

Scalia is right. Instead of picking over details to come to seemingly contradictory decisions on the Ten Commandments issue and leaving the hardest part of the decision for a future court, the justices should have buckled down and considered the facts.

The Ten Commandments are a religious document no matter what context they are in; the court admits that. The reason they are so controversial in the first place is because they are religious law being displayed where secular law is made and interpreted. The mixing of the two is enough to make anyone who might not follow such doctrine uneasy in the supposedly secular United States.

No one is trying to remove religion entirely from the public sphere as the most ardent Commandment advocates would argue. The issue is that we must recognize we are an increasingly diverse nation.

Staff Editorial

Daily Texan (U. Texas)