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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 01:30 GMT
Ten commandments appeal rejected
The US Supreme Court
Justices did not comment after their ruling
America's highest court has rejected an appeal that would have allowed a stone monument of the Ten Commandments on a statehouse lawn.

The Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court ruling that the proposed monument on government property in Indiana would have violated church-state separation under the US Constitution.

Many conservative Americans are campaigning to have the Ten Commandments displayed in public places in an attempt to strengthen traditional values.

But the constitution's First Amendment bars any state "establishment" of religion which means that the government cannot promote religion or favour one faith over another.

No comment

The Supreme Court's decision leaves in place conflicting court rulings across the country that allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in some instances but not in others.

Justices did not comment after their ruling.

Indiana had argued that the First Amendment allowed the display in front of the statehouse in Indianapolis to "memorialise the role the Commandments have played in the development of the rule of law and of the American legal system".

But the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued.

They argued that the seven-feet (2.3 metre) limestone monument would bring specific religious beliefs to a public place.

Court divided

Indiana also said the monument would replace a Ten Commandments plaque on the statehouse grounds that was destroyed by vandals in 1991.

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter said that the case presented an "important and recurring issue" on whether the government could display the Ten Commandments.

Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia supported the appeal.

Last year, the Supreme Court divided over whether to hear another case concerning a Ten Commandments monument outside a civic building in Elkhart, Indiana.

The court opted not to hear the case, but the three most conservative justices took the unusual step of announcing that they would have agreed to hear it and that they saw nothing wrong with the monument.

See also:

18 Apr 00 | Education
Ten commandments 'advert' ban remains
24 Nov 99 | Education
Ten Commandments schools back down
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