Dixie County to Defend Open Forum Policy Which Allows Private Ten Commandments Display

Posted by Guest Writer on July 26, 2011 under How | Be the First to Comment

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Cross City, FL – Today Liberty Counsel filed a Notice of Appeal on behalf of Dixie County, Florida, at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the county’s Open Forum policy, which allows private displays of law and history, including the Ten Commandments. Liberty Counsel represents Dixie County in a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2007, after the county permitted a local resident to erect a Ten Commandments monument outside the county courthouse, where other private displays are also allowed.

The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Florida (Gainesville Division) ruled against Dixie County, ordering the Ten Commandments monument be removed by August 14, claiming it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The plaintiff represented by the ACLU does not live in the county, has never lived in the county, and has no intent to ever return to the county. Liberty Counsel will argue on appeal that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiff has no standing to sue. Moreover, Liberty Counsel will awww.LC.orgrgue that the case presents a Free Speech, not an Establishment Clause, issue. The Open Forum policy allows private citizens to erect private historical displays at their own expense.

The Ten Commandments monument was purchased and erected by Joe H. Anderson, Jr., a longtime resident, businessman, and benefactor in Dixie County. Mr. Anderson placed his monument in the Open Forum without any government funds, after he asked for and received permission from the county. Mr. Anderson owns and maintains the monument, not the county.

Liberty Counsel prevailed in cases at the Sixth and Seventh Circuit Courts of Appeal against challenges brought by the ACLU involving government-sponsored displays of the Ten Commandments.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Dixie County is not establishing a religion by allowing a private individual to place a monument in a location where similar monuments may be placed. Dixie County should be applauded, not sued, for fostering open and robust speech in a public forum. Rather than take advantage of the forum, the ACLU prefers to censor speech with which it disagrees. The Ten Commandments are universally recognized as a symbol of the law and are appropriate for display in courthouses and similar settings. Public display of the Commandments is consistent with our nation’s history and with the First Amendment. There are more than 50 depictions of the Ten Commandments at the U.S. Supreme Court, and there have been thousands of displays throughout the country for many years.”

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