October 23, 2017
Supreme Court lets ruling stand preventing Ten Commandments display
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal about an order to remove a Ten Commandments display outside City Hall in Bloomfield, New Mexico.
The refusal to hear the case, announced Oct. 16, lets the lower court ruling stand.
In 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Bloomfield City Hall must remove the outdoor display because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing the city of Bloomfield, said the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case gives “anti-religion advocates a license to challenge any monument that they see and offends them.”
“Just because we disagree with what something says, does not mean we can ban it from the public square,” the group said in an Oct. 16 statement.
They also said the court failed to resolve confusion in lower courts about public monuments.
The Ten Commandments display was placed at the Bloomfield City Hall in 2011. It is 6 feet tall and weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.
A year later, the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the city over the display on behalf of two pagan residents of the city who took issue with the Ten Commandments on government property.
In 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision.
Bloomfield appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and the case received the support of several groups, including some members of Congress.
Civil liberties advocates see the Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the matter as a victory for the separation of church and state.
The city of Bloomfield has said the display avoided endorsing religion because disclaimers near it said the area was a public forum for citizens and privately funded monuments did not necessarily reflect the city’s views.