McCreary County officials erected three separate displays of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses.
The Rehnquist Court (1994-2005). Seated, from left to right: Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy. Standing, from left to right: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas, and Steven G. Breyer.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the constitutionality of the first display.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Justice Scalia: “President Washington authored the first Thanksgiving proclamation . . . on behalf of the American people ‘to the service of that great and glorious being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that is, that was, or that will be.'"
Justice Scalia: “George Washington added to the form of presidential oath prescribed by Article II of the Constitution the concluding words ‘So help me God.’”
In 1802, President Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, and included the now-famous phrase, a ‘‘wall of separation between church and state.’’
Officials in McCreary County, Kentucky, erected three separate displays of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. The first display consisted of a large framed copy of the Ten Commandments that was hung in a busy hallway. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU) challenged the constitutionality of the first display.
In response, the county erected a second display. It surrounded the framed copy of the Ten Commandments with smaller framed copies of patriotic and legal documents that contained religious references. The district court found that the second display was unconstitutional because it “lacked any secular purpose” and the county’s object was instead to advance religion. The phrase secular, as opposed to sectarian, refers to a non-religious purpose.
After this ruling, the county erected a third display.