First Amendment

6th Circuit Rules Against Ohio Judge’s Modified Ten Commandments Poster

An Ohio judge who hung a new Ten Commandments poster in his courtroom after losing a legal battle over the first didn’t fare any better the second time around.

The new Ten Commandments poster displayed by Judge James DeWeese of Richland County had compared the Commandments’ 10 “moral absolutes” with seven “moral relatives,” including this one: “Man is a product of cosmic accidents.” The poster also included some commentary. “Our Founders saw the necessity of moral absolutes,” it said.

On Wednesday, the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the poster violates the establishment clause. The Columbus Dispatch and the Mansfield News Journal have stories on the decision (PDF). “Defendant’s history of establishment clause violation casts aspersions on his purportedly secular purpose in hanging the poster in his courtroom,” the opinion says.

The poster still hangs in DeWeese’s courtroom, but it has been covered in dark cloth since a federal judge ruled against the judge in 2009, the Mansfield News Journal says. A statement labeled “Censored” is attached.

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