Late yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation filed a motion seeking a contempt order and compliance with a federal court's order that the Ohio Valley/Adams County school district remove displays of the Ten Commandments from four high schools in rural Adams County in southern Ohio.
On June 11, 2002, United States Magistrate Judge Timothy Hogan, in Cincinnati, declared that the display of the Ten Commandments at the four high schools was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment mandate of church-state separation, and ordered them to be removed. Since then, the defendants' appeals have been rejected twice by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
"This has gone on long enough," said Scott Greenwood, general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio. "It is time for them to obey the federal court's order. If they refuse to do so, the court will use its power to force them to comply."
In 1980, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a Kentucky law which required the Commandments to be placed in public school classrooms. Finding the Commandments to be a sacred text to both Christians and Jews, the Court held that public schools could not teach students to venerate them without promoting religion, in violation of the First Amendment. Despite this, there have been repeated efforts throughout the Midwest in recent years to reintroduce the Commandments in public schools and other public buildings.
"They have had their day in court and had the benefit of appeals," said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari. "Every day the monuments remain is an affront to the First Amendment."