Ten Commandments Arguments Before High Court - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/2/05-Washington, D.C.

Ten Commandments Arguments Before High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing debate on an issue close to many in East Texas -- just where can the Ten Commandments be put on display.

One side says monuments of the Ten Commandments have no place on public property. Others, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott say it's part of our history and culture.

In a courtroom adorned with a carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the public display is unconstitutional.

Abbott: "The purpose of the display was not to endorse any particular religious creed, but instead, to recognize the historical role the Ten Commandments have played in the development of our laws."

The ACLU argues the displays violate the First Amendment -- banning any law on government establishment of religion.

David Friedman, ACLU: "Government must remain neutral and it has not done so here."

In their questioning, the justices appeared reluctant to completely ban such displays.  Justice Antonin Scalia noted the court allows prayers and proclamations involving God.  Why, he asks, "is that good and this bad?"

Jay Sekulow, American Center For Law and Justice: "It was very clear, with the repeated references by the court to their own frieze, which has Moses holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments, this court is not going to order the sandblasting removal of those Ten Commandments monuments."

In Austin, a monument of the Commandments sits on the Capitol grounds downtown. Defenders say this is part of Texas' legal heritage. It's just one of thousands of monuments around the nation.

The justices' ruling is expected by late June. The controversy over the Commandments gained steam after the then-Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court went against fellow judges by refusing to remove a Commandments monument from that state's judicial building.

In the two years since its removal, that monument has been on a tour of the country, stopping a couple of times here in East Texas.

Reported by Morgan Palmer. 

ABC News contributed to this report. 

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