Decalogue déjà vu

 By Bonnie Pritchett


(WNS)–Dispersed around the lawn of the Bloomfield, N.M., City Hall are monuments that bear witness to the influence of writings that have shaped American heritage: the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence. One of the displays features the Ten Commandments, the subject of repeated legal challenges and conflicting court rulings.

Now the New Mexico city is asking the U.S. Supreme Court—again—to clarify whether privately funded monuments commemorating the Ten Commandments can remain a part of the city’s “public forum.”

The open space allows the placement of privately funded and maintained monuments that “acknowledge and commemorate the history and heritage of its law and government.” Two Bloomfield residents filed suit in 2012, requesting the removal of the “offensive” Ten Commandments monument. The case eventually ended up at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against the city and ordered the display removed.

In their appeal, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued two similar cases produced two different Supreme Court rulings, leaving lower courts confused. The city’s attorneys also contend the complainants have no standing because they have not demonstrated harm. They simply feel offended and “excluded,” the lawyers argue.

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