In 2007, the Bloomfield, New Mexico City Council launched a campaign to allow “private citizens” to fund and erect a 10 Commandments monument on city property promoting the Protestant version of Christianity — even though this violates the U.S. Constitution and New Mexico’s state constitution.
The campaign was led by former councilman Kevin Mauzy, who presided over a religious/patriotic-themed dedication ceremony on July 4, 2011. Objections from several members of the community were ignored — as was the fact that in 2009, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which also presides over New Mexico) had ordered Haskell County, Oklahoma to remove a similar monument from the county courthouse grounds.
In February of 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court on behalf of two city residents, who say that the monument amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of a particular religion, in this case, Protestant Christianity.
ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson said:
“Individuals, religious communities, and religious associations should be free to post the Ten Commandments as they wish, and the ACLU will defend their right to do so. But the government should not decide which religious doctrines it favors and then post them on government property. Government should stay out of the business of religion and avoid choosing some religious beliefs over others.”
In the complaint, the New Mexico ACLU claimed that the city had given preferential treatment that amounted to an endorsement of one religion over all others, and that in the process they had ignored state law and municipal ordinances in order to facilitate the erection of the monument while taking actions which barred any other religion or organization from erecting their own monument on city property.
On Thursday U.S. District Judge James A. Parker handed down his ruling saying that the monument amounted to government speech and had “principal effect of endorsing religion.”
In his 32-page opinion, Parker said that by erecting the monument the city had clearly violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and ordered the city to remove it by September 10.
Kob4 reports on 10 Commandments monument ruling.
Watch the news report from KOB4 on the 10 Commandments monument ruling below.
h/t and featured photo (screen grab): KOB4.