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Fight for Ten Commandments moves to appellate court

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (BP)–The American Center for Law and Justice, an international public interest law firm, asked a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling that a display of a monument containing the text of the Ten Commandments in Plattsmouth, Neb. is unconstitutional.

“We are appealing this important case because nothing in the constitution prohibits government from acknowledging the important role the Ten Commandments has played in the development of our culture,” said Francis. J. Manion, senior counsel of the ACLJ. “The people of Plattsmouth understand something the courts apparently do not, that is, the difference between an acknowledgement of religion and the establishment of religion. Accepting a fraternal group’s gift which happens to contain a text from a religious source is no more an establishment of religion than is our national motto, ‘In God We Trust’ or the phrase ‘One nation under God’ found in the Pledge of Allegiance.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska entered judgment on May 3 in favor of the ACLU of Nebraska and an anonymous Plattsmouth resident who claims to be an atheist. The court ruled that the display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The court permanently barred Plattsmouth from “retaining the Ten Commandments display in Memorial Park as it is now situated” and awarded attorney’s fees to the ACLU.

“The courts are currently deeply divided on the issue of government displays of the Ten Commandments,” Manion said. “Several federal appeals courts have reached different conclusions and the Supreme Court has so far declined to step in. By bringing this case to the Eighth Circuit we hope to continue to develop the law on this issue with a view toward ultimately getting a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The American Center for Law and Justice is an international public interest law firm specializing in constitutional law. The ACLJ is headquartered in Virginia and its web site address is www.aclj.org.

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