Despite a state Supreme Court ruling that voted against it, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma says a statue of the Ten Commandments will continue to be displayed at the state Capitol building.
The Court ruled 7-2 last week that the Ten Commandments statue is a religious symbol and has to be removed because it violates the state’s laws on public property that does not allow the promotion of one religion. The monument, a 6-foot tall statue that was constructed with funds from a Republican state lawmaker, is “obviously religious in nature and [is] an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths,” the Court said.
Previously, a district court judge ruled in favor of the state, saying the statue may remain in place, according to the Associated Press.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, some state lawmakers have called for the impeachment of the justices who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Oklahoma state Attorney General Scott Pruitt in particular referred to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a Texas statue identical in nature to be displayed without objection.
“Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments of the foundation of the Western law,” Pruitt said.
In rebuttal, the state justices said that Oklahoma's own state laws must be followed before federal law. The monument was thus in violation of the state's constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.
As of now, the monument will not be removed pending a rehearing that Pruitt’s office plans to ask for. He also supported a repeal of a section of the state law that bans the use of public funding for religious purposes.
Those who oppose the statue were quick to deride Pruitt’s comments, calling the comments “dangerous.”
“I think the idea that you go about amending the constitution every time you lose a court battle is a dangerous precedent for anyone to engage in, but in particular for the state’s highest attorney to do so,” said Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma. “And the calls for impeachment represent a fundamental misunderstanding of how an independent judiciary functions within our system of democratic government.”
The monument, initially built in 2012, has inspired other religious groups to campaign to erect their own statues symbolizing their religions. One group reportedly wishes to create a 7-foot tall statue symbolizing the Devil as Baphoment, a figure with horns, wings and a beard.
Gov. Fallin has spoke out in favor of the statue.
“Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions. However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government,” she said.
Photo Credit: WikiCommons, arktimes.com