Judge gives Oklahoma a month to remove Ten Commandments from Capitol

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 5:07 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma County judge on Friday gave the state a month to remove a 6-foot-tall (1.80-meter) granite monument containing the Ten Commandments from Capitol grounds after the state's top court said it had been erected illegally.

District Judge Thomas Prince denied a motion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt to keep in place the monument that had been on Capitol grounds since 2012 and garnered strong support from Oklahoma's Republican leadership.

In June, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the monument must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

The decision prompted Republican lawmakers to say they will look at impeachment for the justices who made the decision and legal briefs from the attorney general's office to keep the monument in the shadow of the Statehouse.

Lawmakers have argued that the monument was not serving a religious purpose but was meant to mark a historical event.

That opened the door for other groups, including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to apply for permission to erect their own monuments on Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events.

The stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, has prompted complaints that it violated the U.S. Constitution's provisions against government establishment of religion, as well as local laws.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)