A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that found an Ohio judge’s courtroom display of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese violated the First Amendment when he put up a poster in his Mansfield courtroom.
The appeals court upheld a 2009 district court judge’s ruling that the poster unconstitutionally endorsed particular religious views over others. The poster, designed and framed by the judge, and titled “Philosophies of Law in Conflict,” compared the “moral absolutes” of the Ten Commandments to the “moral relatives” of humanism.
Humanism rejects religious beliefs and holds that humans control their own actions.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed a brief in the constitutional challenge to the poster by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, praised the appeals court in a statement.
“Judge DeWeese was improperly promoting his personal religious beliefs in his courtroom, and I’m glad the appeals court put a stop to it,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the Washington, D.C., group’s executive director.
The judge hung the poster in 2006. That was after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 let stand previous lower-court rulings that his first Ten Commandments poster, which he hung in 2000, violated the constitution.