Ten Commandments


I was watching an old repeat of the West Wing the other day, from back when the show was good. And I couldn’t help but think of it when I saw this news item:

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that putting framed copies of the Ten Commandments in county courthouses violated church-state separation, but it allowed a commandments monument in a larger display on a state Capitol grounds.

The two 5-4 rulings on the politically charged issue of displaying the Ten Commandments on government property came in a pair of cases regarded as the most important of the court term concerning constitutional separation of church and state.

Display issues aside, I can’t help but wonder what the Ten Commandments are even doing in a courthouse in the first place. To quote the West Wing episode:

Sam: There is a town in Alabama that wants to abolish all laws except the Ten Commandments.
Tobey: That’s odd.
Sam: Well they’re going to have a problem.
Tobey: Because the Constitution prohibits religious activity in any form connected to government?
[ . . . ]
Sam: I just mean, some of those Commandments are pretty hard to enforce […] Coveting thy neighbor’s wife, for example. How are you going to enforce that one?

Yeah, I’m not sure how a court of law would prove coveting. Do you get witnesses to comment on longing glances?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 06.28.05 at 8:18 AM

They’d better drop the ol’ swearing on the Bible shtick at ALL formal Gov’t. functions as well then, eh? I can’t wait till they tell the Pres. that he’s not legit because the swearing in was unconstitutional…heheheh


2 Anonymous 06.28.05 at 10:27 PM

There’s an issue of culture and history involved here. Given that, I can see why they’re displayed. They represent a society’s history.


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