First Amendment

Appeals Court Blocks Removal of Ten Commandments Monument From Courthouse Steps

A federal appeals court has blocked the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the steps outside of a Florida courthouse for the time being.

The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling (PDF) Wednesday, sent the case back to a lower court for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether the plaintiff, a part-time resident of a neighboring county, has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the monument, the Huntsville Times reports.

The 5-foot-tall monument, which was donated by an area resident, was erected at one entrance to the Dixie County, Fla., courthouse in 2006 with the approval of the Dixie County Board of Commissioners.

The ACLU filed suit against the county in 2007 on behalf of a part-time resident of a neighboring county, contending that the monument violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

In 2009, a lower court judge ruled in favor of the ACLU, but the county appealed that decision on the grounds that the plaintiff through whom the ACLU had claimed standing could not demonstrate an actual injury that he had suffered as a result of the display.

The appeals court, in its ruling Wednesday, found that because of a material conflict in the evidence, an evidentiary hearing on the issue of standing was merited.

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