Commentary: Bad decisions on the Ten Commandments

Beginning in 1999, fiscal courts in McCreary and Pulaski counties made a series of misguided decisions that now have them trying to figure out how to pay a legal bill of $456,881 plus interest.

Their first bad choice was hanging stand-alone copies of the Ten Commandments in their respective courthouses. After the American Civil Liberties Union and local residents filed a suit correctly challenging the displays as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman ordered the displays removed.

It could have ended there. But fiscal courts in the two counties just kept making bad decisions. They appealed Coffman's decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which also concluded that the displays were unconstitutional because the motive for putting them on the courthouse walls was clearly religious.

Again, it could have ended there — not as cheaply as it could have ended if the two fiscal courts had accepted Coffman's initial decision, but at less cost than the two counties are facing today.

But, no, the fiscal courts tried a new angle, passing new resolutions including the Ten Commandments in displays with other historic documents such as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which ironically includes the First Amendment they've kept trying to violate for the last dozen years.

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