A small New Mexico town is taking on court battles to retain a historical display at city hall.
In 2007, the city of Bloomfield, population 8,000, erected a stone Ten Commandments monument at city hall. Two atheists didn't like it and filed suit to have it removed. In 2014, a federal judge ruled the monument unconstitutional.
Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Jonathan Scruggs tells OneNewsNow the city also erected other monuments to comply with court decisions in other jurisdictions. All of the monuments were privately funded and placed in a public forum in order to beautify the city.
"A Declaration of Independence, a Bill of Rights monument, a monument of the Gettysburg Address – all these monuments share a common theme of acknowledging our history and heritage in America," Scruggs explains. "Unfortunately, the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed."
According to Scruggs, the Tenth Circuit essentially said that because the Ten Commandments monument was set up first and the other historical items later, favoritism was shown toward religious elements – thus inferring a religious purpose behind the monument.
"We don't think that the legality of it should turn on something like that and should turn on what actually is presently in the area," Scruggs says. "You have all these monuments [in the display], and the Ten Commandments monument is actually the smallest compared to the Declaration of Independence and the others."
On behalf of the town of Bloomfield, ADF is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and clarify what the Establishment Clause requires. The high court, says ADF, has ruled in the past that a passive monument – like the one in Bloomfield – accompanied by others acknowledging America's religious heritage cannot be interpreted as an establishment of religion.