The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation will file suit in United States District Court in Cleveland on the afternoon of March 8, 2001, alleging that a poster of the Ten Commandments in the Richland County Courthouse, in Mansfield, violates the First Amendment mandate of separation between church and state. The poster, over eight feet square, appears on the wall of a courtroom in the county office building. Mansfield is located midway between Cleveland and Columbus.
According to lawyers for the ACLU, the display of so plainly religious an image in a public building is a textbook violation of the First Amendment. “The Ten Commandments are a sacred text both to Christians and to Jews,” said Sara DeCaro, a Cleveland attorney who is handling the case as a volunteer for the ACLU,
“To display a sacred text in a courtroom promotes religion, something that, under our system, the government cannot do.” Federal courts across the nation have routinely ruled that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in county courthouses and other public buildings.
The suit does not seek money damages, but rather asks the federal court to order the removal of the poster and to forbid the county from displaying such religious images in its public buildings.