Oklahoma Supreme Court: Ten Commandments monument must go

Oklahoma Supreme Court: Ten Commandments monument must go

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds must be removed.

The justices ruled 7-2 that the placement of the monument violated Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

"The monument was a gift from another Oklahoma citizen and was placed on the Capitol grounds pursuant to a Legislative act that was signed by the Governor. While conceding that no public funds were expended to acquire the monument, complainants nonetheless maintain its placement on the Capitol grounds constitutes the use of public property for the benefit of a system of religion. Such governmental action is forbidden by Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution."

"The United State Supreme Court case of Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005), rules that the Texas Ten Commandments monument did not violate the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, However, the issue in the case at hand is whether the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monuments violates the Oklahoma Constitution, not whether it violates the Establishment Clause. Our opinion rests solely on the Oklahoma Constitution with no regard for federal jurisprudence. See Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1040-41 (1983). As concerns the 'historic purpose' justification, the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are in integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths."

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt disagrees with the court's ruling and plans to file a petition for a rehearing.

"Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law. Furthermore, the court's incorrect interpretation of Article 2, Section 5 contradicts previous rulings of the court. In response, my office will file a petition with the court for a rehearing in light of the broader implications of this ruling on other areas of state law. In the interim, enforcement of the court's order cannot occur. Finally, if Article 2, Section 5, is going to be construed in such a manner by the court, it will be necessary to repeal it," said Pruitt in a press release.

The monument was first installed on the Capitol grounds in 2012 after being approved by lawmakers in 2009.

The Ten Commandments monument was destroyed after a man drove a car through the monument on October 23, 2014. State Representative Mike Ritze had an identical monument built using his own money and a fundraiser.

The Satanic Temple of New York, a Hindu leader in Nevada, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and an animal rights group also tried to have a monument placed on the Capitol grounds.