Courtroom interior_newWritten by Don Byrd

The Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier this week rebuffed state officials who requested a rehearing after the Court previously found that a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol violates the state constitution and must be removed. The Court was in no mood to change its mind. “No merit warrants a grant of rehearing.”

Here are excerpts from concurring opinions:

Stripping the Ten Commandments of their religious significance and characterizing them as secular and a component of the foundation of the laws of this State trivializes the sacred nature of the text and degrades those individuals who truly believe the Ten Commandments are a covenant between God and His people. — Justice Gurich

[T]he Ten Commandments monument at issue in this case is nothing like the plain simple cross whose “symbolic message” was said to be “evanescent” or fleeting . . . . The Ten Commandments monument in this case does explicitly “display” and “articulate” ideas that directly pertain to the Judeo-Christian system of religion. — Justice Reif

[T]he Ten Commandments monument’s location on state property is a clear violation of a straightforward, unambiguous provision of the Oklahoma Constitution. — Justice Taylor

Several Justices also strongly denied the claim that the state constitutional provision in question, Article 2, Section 5, which prohibits the use of public money to support religion, is a controversial 19th-century “Blaine Amendment.”  Justice Edmondson argued the origin of the passage “is with Thomas Jefferson.”

You can read the court’s opinion here.

In the aftermath of the initial ruling a month ago, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin responded with defiance, vowing to keep the monument in place while pursuing legal options. She also wants to give voters an opportunity to repeal Article 2, Section 5 of the State Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of the application for re-hearing would seem to be the end of her judicial options. Will the monument finally, appropriately, be removed from public grounds? Will her office remain defiant? What happens then?  Stay tuned.

Visit the Baptist Joint Committee’s page on Religious Displays.