Archbishop Coakley questions justices' judgment of historical monument
The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the state capitol "ignores its historical significance in the formation of our state," said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, in a statement Tuesday.
The high court ruled 7-2 Tuesday that the monument must be removed because the state constitution prohibits the use of public property to directly or indirectly benefit a “church denomination or system of religion.”
Several state lawmakers called for impeachment of the seven justices who voted to remove the monument, and the state’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, filed a petition for rehearing — a move that will at least delay removal of the monument.
If that fails, Pruitt called for changing the state constitution, according to NewsOK.com.
Archbishop Coakley said the court ruling ignores the Ten Commandments’ significance "as an ancient law code having prominence at the place where lawmakers work to enact wise and just laws."
“The Court’s dismissal of these established facts is deeply concerning and disappointing," the archbishop said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma had filed the lawsuit.
"I think it’s the right decision and affirms the plain meaning of the state Constitution which has always stood for the idea that it isn’t the government’s business to tell us what are right or wrong choices when it comes to faith,” said Brady Henderson, ACLU legal director.
State Rep. Mike Ritze, whose family bought the original Ten Commandments monument for placement on Capitol grounds, called Tuesday’s ruling a “disappointment.”
“It is a surprise and a disappointment because an identical monument that sits at the Texas state Capitol and numerous other state and federal buildings has withstood two Supreme Court challenges,” said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow.
Ritze said the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law saying this monument was a historical display, and courts have ruled such displays are allowed.
In his request for rehearing, Pruitt argued that Tuesday’s decision conflicts with a 1972 state Supreme Court decision that it was permissible to construct a 50-foot-tall lighted Latin cross on Oklahoma City public property at the fairgrounds.