“The ACLU got caught with its hands in the constitutional cookie jar,” Mr. Mihet said in a press release. “In getting kicked out of court, the ACLU has learned that it cannot impose its San Francisco values upon a small town in Florida, using a phantom member from North Carolina.” The five-foot-tall 12,000-pound monument was erected at the top of the courthouse steps in 2006 after Joe Anderson Jr., chairman and founder of Lake City-based road builder Anderson Columbia, purchased it for $20,000.
Joe Anderson has not only funded several other Ten Commandments monuments in Florida, but also a “revival” mobile display. It’s parked somewhere until legal threats arise, and then it takes off down the road. “He’s having some fun with the ACLU,” Mr. Mihet said.
“We’re just getting started,” Mr. Anderson, 73, told me last Friday, saying that he had several requests from other counties to erect Ten Commandment monuments. “We got a bunch of them up right now, already built, ready to go.”
After the initial ruling, Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, commented:
“Dixie County is not establishing a religion by allowing a private individual to place a monument in a location where similar monuments may be placed. Dixie County should be applauded, not sued, for fostering open and robust speech in a public forum. Rather than take advantage of the forum, the ACLU prefers to censor speech with which it disagrees.”
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in favor of a Ten Commandments monument alongside other historical items at the Texas state capitol, the ACLU has had a tougher time ripping God’s directives out of the ground. Oklahoma just installed a set of privately-financed Ten Commandments on the state capitol grounds in November.
Hiram Saffer, director of litigation for Texas-based Liberty Institute, which will represent Oklahoma in any legal challenge, said the ACLU has not yet sued there, but is actively trying to tear down crosses such as the one atop the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego. In that case, in which Liberty Institute is representing the Memorial Association, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to reverse a Ninth Circuit order to take down the cross. All parties are awaiting a “remedy” fashioned by the lower courts.
In King, North Carolina, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is suing to have a veterans memorial remove a Christian flag and a statue of a soldier kneeling at a comrade’s grave. How do we know it’s a grave? Because of the cross. Liberty Institute is representing the American Legion.
While the courts sort things out, wouldn’t it be interesting if Florida’s Mr. Anderson took his mobile Ten Commandment display on the road, up to North Carolina? He might run into “John Doe” and his RV.
Now, that would be a race to remember, and I wouldn’t bet against the Ten Commandments.