Following ACLU Lawsuit, Federal Court in Nebraska Orders City to Remove Ten Commandments Monument

Affiliate: ACLU of Nebraska
February 19, 2002 12:00 am

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LINCOLN, NE–Citing the “”overwhelming religious nature”” of a Ten Commandments monument placed in a city-owned park in Plattsmouth, a federal court today ordered officials to remove the display.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, which had sued government officials on behalf of itself and a Plattsmouth resident who objected to the city-sponsored religious message, welcomed the ruling as a victory for religious liberty.

“”The court clearly understood the true nature of such monuments,”” said Amy Miller, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nebraska, who represented the ACLU in the lawsuit. “”These are not rules for good citizenship, they are instructions on religious beliefs that properly belong on private property, not government land.””

The order, signed today by Federal District Court Judge Richard Kopf, came after both parties asked the judge to rule on the merits of the case without further hearings. The matter had originally been set for a full trial to begin on January 22, 2002. Attorneys for both sides told the judge that there were no critical disputed facts in the matter and asked the judge to rule on the case as a matter of law.

“”Much has been said about our client and the motivation for this law suit,”” said Sue Ellen Wall, who represented the individual plaintiff, identified as John Doe in court filings. “”From the beginning, our client has not sought to enrich himself, but to simply be allowed to use a city park without having the government tell him that he is unwelcome unless he adheres to a specific religious doctrine.””

“”We hope that this ruling puts the matter to rest,”” added Tim Butz, Executive Director of the ACLU Nebraska. “”The city can appeal this matter, but such an appeal will only result in the squandering of tax dollars in pursuit of something the city cannot have: government sponsored religious messages.””

Ms. Wall is a Lincoln attorney in private practice and served as an ACLU cooperating attorney in the case. She and Ms. Miller were assisted in the case by Jeremy Patrick, a Senior Certified Law Clerk from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

The cost of this litigation was underwritten by members of ACLU of Nebraska and contributors to the ACLU of Nebraska Foundation.

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