Oklahoma Supreme Court reaffirms order to remove Ten Commandments monument
The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has reaffirmed an earlier ruling for the removal of a Ten Commandments monument outside of the state capitol.
In a 7-2 decision, the state's highest court denied Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's request for a rehearing on the court's order to remove the monument last month.
"We carefully considered the arguments of the commission and found no merit warranting a grant of rehearing," Chief Justice John Reif wrote in decision, according to Christian News.
Chief Justice John F. Reif, Justice Yvonne Kauger, Justice Joseph M. Watt, Justice James R. Winchester, Justice James E. Edmondson, Justice Steve W. Taylor, and Justice Noma D. Gurich concurred.
Only Vice Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs and Justice Tom Colbert dissented.
Pruitt requested a rehearing a month after Oklahoma's Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments monument had violated a constitutional ban in the state against using public property to benefit a religion.
The court ruling prompted an outcry from some conservative legislators, who vowed to impeach the justices or amend the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Pruitt issued a statement saying he is reviewing the court's order.
Oklahoma Rep. Mike Ritze, who paid for the construction of the monument in 2009, said the Oklahoma justices neglected "decades of its own legal precedent in order to hand down a political decision."
"In 1973, Judge Alfred P. Murrah ruled that an identical monument bearing the Ten Commandments was perfectly constitutional where it stood in Salt Lake City. If this is the Court's opinion, it threatens all displays on state property that contain religious imagery," Ritze said in a statement.
"It seems like the only available option is to remove this section of the Constitution that the Court relied on in making its decision," he added.
Ritze, who personally paid $1,000 for the display, also urged the Legislature and the governor in Oklahoma to move for the repeal of this section of the state Constitution.
In August 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma filed a suit against the monument, arguing that its construction near the state capitol building was unconstitutional.
Liberal minister Bruce Prescott, the director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, said mixing the sacred with the secular cheapens the display.
As a plaintiff, Prescott also asserted that it violated the Constitution's establishment clause, which says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
In September, Seventh District Court Judge Thomas Prince decided that the monument served a historical purpose and not solely the presentment of a religious message, considering that it is sitting on a plot of land that contains 51 other expressive monuments.
But his ruling was appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court ruling in June.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the state legislature are now considering passing legislation to amend the state Constitution so that it will have a provision for the presence of such a monument, Christian News said.