A Federal District court in Alabama ruled that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s 5,300 pound granite display of the Ten Commandments violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. Justice Moore has pledged to appeal, but he may run into trouble for failing what has variously been called either the Frosty the Snowman or the Rudolph test.
Under a series of constitutionally bizarre Supreme Court rulings, religious displays including nativity scenes are generally permissible so long there are other non-religious articles--like Frosty, or Rudolph, or a robot present. Justice Moore has seemingly argued his way out of the rudolph exception by denying the requests of Civil Rights groups to put up a copy of MLK’s "I Have A Dream" speech, and atheists’ requests to display a tribute to the atom--an idea the atheists no doubt stole from the Simpson’s tribute to the inanimate carbon rod. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously struck down the display of the Ten Commandments at public schools, but has not ruled on them in courthouses. Should the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately take the case, they would hear it sitting beneath Moses and the Ten Commandments (you can see the carving on a virtual tour here [ Free Quicktime viewer required), and in front of the public doors to the courtroom, which likewise have the tablets carved in them. The New York Times story (which includes a picture of the display) is here, and the court’s decision is here.