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Archive for Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Kline signs on to Ten Commandments legal battle

September 28, 2004

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— Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline has entered the legal battle to maintain public displays of the Ten Commandments.

Kline joined nine other state attorneys general in a friend-of-the-court legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds.

The dispute is over whether the 6-foot-high by 3-foot-wide granite monument violates the First Amendment stricture against a government-established religion.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the monument permissible.

The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, and the group of states asked the panel to rule on the matter because of conflicting decisions in similar cases across the country.

"The doctrine is jumbled, the litigation is growing, the public is engaged and the 5th Circuit just freshened the conflict," said Thomas Fisher, special counsel to Indiana Atty. Gen. Steve Carter, who filed the legal brief.

That brief, which Kline signed, states that Ten Commandments displays should be defended "as tributes to a seminal part of our nation's history and civilization."

The monument on the Texas Capitol grounds has stood there since 1961 and includes the Star of David.

Thomas Van Orden, an Austin, Texas, resident, sued, saying the monument violated his constitutional rights against government establishment of a religion.

In a unanimous ruling last year, a three-judge panel of the circuit court said the monument was permissible because it had both religious and secular meaning.

Kline wasn't available Monday for comment about the case.

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