The US Supreme Court has ruled against the display of the Ten Commandments inside two Kentucky courtrooms.
The case centres on the posting of displays in Kentucky
Judges had been asked to decide whether such displays were merely a tribute to American history or an unconstitutional break with the church-state separation.
But the court upheld the presence of a monument featuring the Ten Commandments outside a government building in Texas.
Conservative Christian campaigners and secular groups have conducted a heated debate on the commandment issue.
Judges ruled against the display of framed copies of the Commandments by five votes to four.
Speaking for the court majority, Justice David Souter cited the "predominantly religious purpose" of such displays.
The judges, however, rejected a proposal to ban Commandment displays from all public buildings.
Some displays, they decided, would be permissible if they were portrayed neutrally in order to honour America's legal history.
In a five to four ruling, the judges approved the large granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments which stands in the grounds of the Texas State Capitol.
A lawyer opposed to displaying the Commandments had argued before the Court that as so many of the Commandments refer to God, they promote religion.
But supporters of the displays maintained that removing them would create huge challenges in dealing with thousands of other religious symbols that appear in public property.
Separately, the Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals by US journalists Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller against a contempt ruling by a lower court over their investigation into an alleged leak by the White House which exposed a CIA operative.