Commandments Don’t Belong in Fla. Courthouse, Judge Rules

A federal court in mid July ordered a Florida county to remove a granite monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse within 30 days.

The Decalogue display has been sitting atop the steps of the Dixie County Courthouse in Cross City since 2006. In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, representing an anonymous local resident, filed suit against it.

U.S. Senior District Judge Maurice Paul said the monument violated the separation of church and state, even if it was paid for and maintained by a private resident.

“Despite the actual ownership of the monument, the location and permanent nature of the display make it clear to all reasonable observers that Dixie County chooses to be associated with the message being conveyed,” Paul wrote in his ACLU of Florida v. Dixie County ruling. “As such, the Court finds that the monument displaying the Ten Commandments is government speech and must comport with the Establishment Clause.”

Dixie County officials are reviewing the court’s decision. The county is represented by Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that operates out of Liberty University.