The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is suing the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, seeking the removal of a Ten Commandments monument that was recently placed on the lawn of the county courthouse.
Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, told KFOR News last month that more than a half-dozen Johnson County residents are named as plaintiffs in the suit.
“This isn’t something we take lightly,” he said. “No public official should try and tell residents what they should believe.”
The suit comes just months after the Oklahoma Supreme Court reaffirmed a 7-2 decision saying that a similar monument on state Capitol grounds had to be removed, reports The Associated Press.
The court issued an order in July denying a rehearing request from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office had fought to keep the privately funded monument in place.
Chief Justice John Reif wrote in his opinion that the court found nothing in Pruitt’s request to merit a rehearing.
“The Ten Commandments monument in this case does explicitly ‘display’ and ‘articulate’ ideas that directly pertain to the Judeo-Christian system of religion,” Reif wrote.
The monument at the Capitol finally came down in early October, according to KFOR. Just hours later, Johnson County commissioners placed a similar monument on the courthouse lawn.
ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said the commissioners stepped over a line in doing so. He seemed to echo some of Reif’s sentiments when he spoke with KFOR about the Jonson County lawsuit.
“No government official has the constitutional authority to use the machinery of government to exploit religion for their own petty political purposes,” he said. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths and those of no faith at all that they are less than equal.”