High Court Agrees To Hear Commandments, Prisoner Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review three cases raising important\n religious liberty issues.

On Oct. 12, the justices accepted two lawsuits dealing with government display\n of the Ten Commandments and a third case challenging a federal law that requires\n prisons to respect the religious freedom of inmates.

The Commandments conflicts, which will be heard early next year, involve\n displays in Texas and Kentucky.

One case challenges a Commandments monument that has stood on the state capitol\n grounds in Austin, Texas, since 1961. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals\n upheld the display in Van Orden v. Perry, saying the monument contained\n a “nonsectarian version” of the Decalogue and noting that it had\n gone unchallenged for many years.

The Kentucky case deals with more recent Commandments displays at courthouses\n in McCreary and Pulaski counties. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled\n in McCreary v. ACLU that the posters were unconstitutional in part\n because of their “blatantly religious” content.

The Supreme Court also announced it would hear a challenge to the Religious\n Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a 2000 law that requires states\n to accommodate prisoners’ religious needs unless corrections officials\n can show a compelling reason not to, such as security concerns.

The case comes from Ohio, where prisoners who belong to minority religions\n say they have been denied access to religious literature and ceremonial items.\n The 6th Circuit invalidated the law in Cutter v. Wilkinson, saying\n it promoted religion at government expense.