Appeals Court Upholds Order to Remove Ten Commandments From New Mexico City Hall

MonumentBLOOMFIELD, N.M. — The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court order to remove the Ten Commandments from the lawn of Bloomfield City Hall in New Mexico, declaring the display to be an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.

“Bloomfield has not undertaken sufficiently purposeful, public, and persuasive actions to secularize the Monument’s previous ‘principal or primary’ religious message,” it wrote on Wednesday. “The City has never explicitly said this Monument was not for religious purposes, nor that it was exhibited only for its historical significance.”

As previously reported, the monument at issue had been erected in 2011 following a resolution allowing private citizens to place historical displays at Bloomfield City Hall. A former city council member had proposed the monument four years prior, which was then approved by city council but paid for with private money.

“Presented to the people of San Juan County by private citizens recognizing the significance of these laws on our nation’s history,” the monument read, which was unveiled during a special ceremony on Independence Day 2011.

But Wiccans Jane Felix and Buford Coone of the Order of the Cauldron of the Sage felt offended by the monument and contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for assistance.

“Our clients who are not Christians, they took issue with this and it made them feel alienated from their community,” Alexandra Smith, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, told local television station KRQE.

The organization filed a lawsuit against the city in 2012, asserting that the monument’s presence on government property amounts to the government endorsement of religion. While the city argued before the court that the monument was historical in nature, the ACLU contended that the content of the Commandments themselves is blatantly religious.

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“One of the commandments is thou shalt put no gods before me. This is clearly not a historical document, but is in fact religious doctrine,” Smith stated.

In August 2014, U.S. District Judge James Parker, nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, sided with the Wiccans, declaring that the Decalogue violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“In view of the circumstances surrounding the context, history, and purpose of the Ten Commandments monument, it is clear that the City of Bloomfield has violated the Establishment Clause because its conduct in authorizing the continued display of the monument on City property has had the primary or principal effect of endorsing religion,” he wrote.

The city appealed, and on Wednesday, the 10th Circuit upheld Parker’s ruling, stating that the addition of historical monuments adjacent to the Ten Commandments did not fix the constitutional infirmities.

“[I]t was especially inadequate here because of the plain religious motivations apparent from the approval (approved alone), financing (sponsored entirely by churches), and unveiling (ceremony rife with Christian allusions) of the Monument,” the three-judge panel wrote.

“In light of those considerations, and the situational context of the Ten Commandments on the lawn, the City would have to do more than merely add a few secular monuments in order to signal to objective observers a ‘principal or primary’ message of neutrality,” it concluded. “Because we find an impermissible effect of endorsement that is insufficiently mitigated by curative efforts, we affirm.”

The case was decided by Judge Robert Bacharach and Carolyn McHugh, nominated to the bench by Barack Obama, as well as David Ebel, nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan. The decision was unanimous.

The religious liberties organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that the city is considering an appeal.

“As the U.S. Supreme Court recently made clear, a constitutional violation doesn’t occur simply because a person encounters speech he finds disagreeable and ‘experiences a sense of affront,'” remarked legal counsel Jonathan Scruggs in a statement. “In this case, a Ten Commandments monument nestled among many other monuments honoring significant documents in American history shouldn’t be attacked simply because two people feel offended by it. For these reasons and others, we are consulting with our client to consider their options for appeal.


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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Removing the Ten Commandment means dissolvement of America. America has been held together by the Judeo-Christian values. When the values are gone, so is the nationhood of America. Atheists always destroy the good and excellent things Christians create. So sad. America’s good legacy continues through all those who read the Holy Bible and remember the history properly. Thanks to America for working so hard for 400 years. It’s been one of the most beautiful lights that kept giving hope. A strong and fair one. May our God continue to bless the American Christians.

    • johndoe

      Nope. It just means there is separation of church and state

      • Oboehner

        Which isn’t in the Constitution at all.

        • Brien

          Which is in the Constitution! See how that works?? Besides which there is the Establishment clause which effectively also deletes religion from the government.

          • Oboehner

            It’s because you say so, that’s how it works? Hardly.
            One practicing one’s belief doesn’t come close to establishing a government religion, sorry still not in there.
            It would be alright with you to teach religion in government schools if one slapped the tag “science” on it though right?

          • TwoRutRoad

            That’s already been tried, and it failed. See Kitzmiller v. Dover.

          • Oboehner

            Yet it continues.

          • TwoRutRoad

            Yes, it continues. Christians continue to violate the Constitution…the very laws that give them the freedom to choose their own religion.

          • Oboehner

            Atheists always seem to see that which isn’t there.

          • TwoRutRoad

            Oh, it’s there al right! Some of it is right here… In just the last two months, from just ONE organization fighting for the separation of church and state:

            New Legal Successes

            License plate denial overturned (October 19, 2016)

            Jersey school district adjusts school policy (October 17, 2016)

            Assembly prayer nixed in school district (October 14, 2016)

            No more coach-led prayers for Texas teams (October 3, 2016)

            Religious display removed from daycare (October 3, 2016)

            California coach-led prayer event stopped (October 3, 2016)

            FFRF shuts off Christian music station (October 3, 2016)

            Indiana county does the correct thing (October 3, 2016)

            FFRF stops school’s promotion of religion (September 28, 2016)

            Religious promotion ends for school event (September 28, 2016)

            School staff won’t join in prayer event (September 26, 2016)

            Employee convocations end at Texas school (September 25, 2016)

            California school removes church banner (September 22, 2016)

            College instructor halts sermonizing (September 16, 2016)

            School paints over Commandments display (September 13, 2016)

            Christian prayer ends at firefighter graduation (September 8, 2016)

            Grad prayer ends for kindergarten class (September 8, 2016)

            Judge: Catholic lot in Madison must be taxed (September 4, 2016)

          • Oboehner

            Court opinions are not law, and separation of church and state is STILL not in the Constitution.

          • Brien

            ”One practicing one’s belief doesn’t come close to establishing a government religion,”
            Yes, in private and personal!
            In government, NO!
            ‘From’ government is obviously sponsoring and endorsing!
            Why are you debating what is quite obvious?
            You are apparently deluding yourself so that you don’t have to face the dissonant resonance of your beliefs.

          • Oboehner

            Again because you say so, doesn’t hold water.

          • Brien

            You just ignored what was said – right over your head!
            …and why would anyone try to conflate ‘religion’ into science?? That is what the idiots do with their silly ‘intelligent design’ crap!

          • Oboehner

            Not over my head, just BS.
            …and people do conflate ‘religion’ into science, that is what the idiots do with their silly billions of years crap!

          • Brien

            ”…billions of years crap!” ??
            Yep, right over your head as you cannot understand the simplest part of geological history.
            Too stupid for me….

          • Oboehner

            I should have seen the old “you cannot understand” non-answer coming. Typical, next I tell you to explain in your own words and you can’t because it so happens YOU cannot understand.

          • Brien

            Well, of course you expect that!! You resemble that! You cannot answer that.
            You must be a preacher to think that your verbal rubbish is accepted by people out side of your ‘parish’.
            Ok, back to the beginning – show your proof of a god or piss off!

          • Oboehner

            Show me proof of how the beliefs of others are even remotely relevant to the lack of proof for evolution.

          • Brien

            Ok, back to the beginning – show your proof of a god or piss off!

          • Oboehner

            Show me proof of how the beliefs of others are even remotely relevant to the lack of proof for evolution.

          • Brien

            Ok, back to the beginning – show your proof of a god or piss off!
            Can you get more stupid? Can’t answer can you – best to just shut up!

          • Oboehner

            Show me proof of how the beliefs of others are even remotely relevant to the lack of proof for evolution.
            Can’t answer can you? – best to just shut up!

          • Brien

            Did you bring your proof yet?? — No?!
            Well, we will discuss your deflections later, then.

          • Oboehner

            I’ll give you all the proof you’ll need once you demonstrate the relevance, otherwise troll on – someplace else.

          • Brien

            The relevance is that you are living a lie and putting it in the public eye. Prove your lies!! These pathetic deflections show childishness. Just admit it – you can’t do it! Be a man!

          • Oboehner

            Right back atcha!

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Today’s USA made it falsely separation of conscience and man. Man is worthless without the truth or functioning conscience.

        • johndoe

          Do you even know what you’re saying?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Yes. Read Exodus ch.20 and John ch.3.

          • johndoe

            Means nothing

          • Brien

            The Bible is a compendium of fire side tales and fables recounted orally for generations, until writing was invented and then again many different sources and versions were written down.
            There were no grand central universities to organise the many various versions of these origin stories.
            They were for entertainment and to answer the many mysteries of our universe, since there was no science yet.
            This is the old Testament.
            The ‘new’ Testes is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, not by objective historians at that particular time, or by any contemporary writers, and written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus. Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus.
            Then many of these stories, not all, were compiled by one self-absorbed converted Roman Emperor for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people. He recognised that this was the perfect religion/mythology for domination of the populace. Half the stories were ignored and none are have been proven.
            This ‘Bible’ is backed up by absolutely no facts and evidence.

    • Bezukhov

      They should allow these 10 Commandments monuments, as long as they add the caveat:
      “The 1st Amendment to the Constitution allows you to break some of these Commandments”

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        You are wrong. Americans know the one true God and His commandments. Those who hate the first three commandmends are mere hedonists. Without the first three, the rest do not come, either. That’s why secular USA promotes blasphemy, disrespect, abortion murder, immoraliy, greed, dishonesty, and unfairness.

        • Bezukhov

          Everybody around me knows I have an idol to Jupiter that I worship. Why haven’t the cops come around to arrest me yet? It’s because of the 1st Amendment.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            There is a religious freedom, but you know you don’t worship Jupiter. You are just saying it to mock serious believers. Secular Westerners’ religion is hedonism.

          • Bezukhov

            Oh yes I do worship Jupiter. Just because you Christians persecuted the followers of Jupiter doesn’t mean we died out. We’re still here.

    • LoveYouLongTime

      “Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

      Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

      “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
      Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

      but hey what do the Founding Father’s know? Right?

    • Brien

      We have never needed religion for values or morality; humans had these qualities long before religions were invented.
      Btw, did you bring your proof of your god with you because we require proof and evidence of wild claims in this age of science (we no longer live in the stone age).

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    All British colonies’ – America’s – foundation:
    “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” ( Psalms ch.33)

    • Brien

      Just poetic rhetoric with no basis in truth….

  • Becky

    “Our clients who are not Christians, they took issue with this and it made them feel alienated from their community,” Alexandra Smith, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, told local television station KRQE.

    Oh, please. They chose to be alienated from any community when they decided to be “Wiccans”. They’re only trying to stir the pot, or in their case, stir the cauldron in order to become relevant. They know that most of no one wants anything to do with these lost “Wiccans”.

    • TwoRutRoad

      “They know that most of no one wants anything to do with these lost “Wiccans”.
      Just another example of Christian love, huh, Becky? Let me point out that the Christians put the pot in place, and filled it to the rim. It wouldn’t need stirring if it wasn’t there to begin with.

      • Becky

        What utter rubbish. You, like this lot, detest Christianity. Skulk elsewhere.

        • Matt Solomon

          Then prove us wrong. Demonstrate how this is not a violation of the Establishment Clause. I, for one, am always game to see people prove a federal judge with decades of Constitutional Law proved wrong with logical analysis and verifiable evidence.

          • Reason2012

            Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

            So cite the law that forced them to put UP this Ten Commandment display.

            You cannot because there is no such law, hence the establishment clause was not violated.

            Please cite that law that prohibits this free exercise of religion – because the First Amendment guarantees there can be no such law.

          • Matt Solomon

            Nothing forced them to put this up, except perhaps a pandering to malleable constituents. I didn’t make the argument that anybody was forced to put this up.

            Nobody’s individual right to religious exercise has been limited here because placing a statute in a public area is not a part of anybody’s religion. No individual was denied anything.

          • Gary Whiteman

            Judging from that photo,
            someone is p-whipped.

          • Matt Solomon

            Lemme get this perfectly straight so I can actually understand the point you’re making.

            I’m “p-whipped” because my photo shows my wife and I together? Guess that makes anybody who had a photo with their partner an unreliable data point. Or is it the suit? Next time maybe I’ll go to a litigator’s conference in my gym
            clothes.

            I can apply the same backwards logic to you: Your lack of a photo clearly indicates an unwillingness to stand behind your opinion, making you, at best, a fair-weather defender of your faith. I guess that’s what comes of making unfounded judgments on an internet photo.

          • Brien

            I decide what is religious advertising and government sponsorship of a religion.
            Therefore it is government endorsement of a religion, a christian religion in fact.
            Thus it is illegal! It is forcing your religion on my government facilities!

          • Palsgraf’s Scale

            Yeah…I agree that it is illegal. It is absolutely an untenable endorsement of religion by government.

            That said, I doubt you, personally, are responsible for making that decision.

          • TwoRutRoad

            There is a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

            The same is true of the bible. The word “neighbor” taken as written, means the person next to you. The spirit of the word, however, means all other people.

            Courts have ruled that the spirit of the law in these situations is that government may not promote any religion, or one religion over another, or any religion over no religion.

        • TwoRutRoad

          It’s not rubbish. Quit putting these pots in schools and courthouses and we won’t have anything to stir.

  • Robert

    I would be intrested in buyimg that and placing itt on my privatly owned highway frontage property in new mexico. I bet their are a church or so thinking the same. . Hope fuly it will be placed in even amore highly visible spot where people will read it.

    • TwoRutRoad

      Go for it! Nobody cares if you put it on private property or church property. That’s where it belongs.

    • Brien

      I know a good gun range that would enjoy another target…

  • Robert

    There is lots of towns through out the us where the government rents buildings for the court house .there the owner of the property could place the ten comandments even in a more promenant spot out side the building.then we would be able to view it much more .

    • TwoRutRoad

      There are churches on practically every corner…isn’t that good enough?
      You seem to be panicking.

  • Reason2012

    Get active, folks – the anti-America deceivers are in full swing trying to hurt America any way they can.

    • Brien

      Yes, the evangelists and other sundry religionists are dragging us back to the days before science educated us.

      • Reason2012

        No, science is fine. It’s liberals that hijack science to promote their anti-science agendas.

        • Brien

          What agenda would that be…?
          Anti-science??
          Examples are required as that makes absolutely no sense.
          (we have read your nonsense before – what is this one about?)

        • TwoRutRoad

          We could hardly “eradicate Christianity” from America. You’re like mice. You’re everywhere. All we want to do is keep you out of government, and keep government from supporting religion. The law of the land determined this, but you refuse to follow those laws. The court agreed unanimously that the monument on government property violated the constitution.

  • Brien

    You mean to say that this god of yours admits that there are other gods?? and has written a rule to that effect??
    Admit it that really does not follow any logic.
    Did the one true god make other gods? How did that work.?

  • Brien

    Btw, We are nowadays requiring proof of your god, especially since the books that you rely on are not verifiable:
    The Bible is a compendium of fire side tales and fables recounted orally for generations, until writing was invented and then again many different sources and versions were written down.

    There were no grand central universities to organise the many various versions of these origin stories.

    They were for entertainment and to answer the many mysteries of our universe, since there was no science yet.

    This is the old Testament.

    The ‘new’ Testes is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, not by objective historians at that particular time, or by any contemporary writers, and written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus. Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus.

    Then many of these stories, not all, were compiled by one self-absorbed converted Roman Emperor for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people.

    He recognised that this was the perfect religion/mythology for domination of the populace. Half the stories were ignored and none are have been proven.

    This ‘Bible’ is backed up by absolutely no facts and evidence.

  • Reason2012

    The Bible is the only ‘religious’ book that dares to make prophecies, several hundred that have come true after the fact of them being written down, even up to thousands of years later.

    Although it is not a science textbook, there are dozens of scientific facts in the Bible that scientists didn’t and couldn’t figure out until hundreds and thousands of years later.

    The grave of all false religions’ prophets has their bones – the grave of Christ is empty.

    You can_kill thousands in the name of a false religion and people of that country will bend over backwards to help you build a church where you did it. You dare mention Christ, hand out a tract, and you’re met with the utmost hatred.

    People who profess faith in Christ have major changes instantly from the inside out that they were unable to overcome over a lifetime.

    It won’t really make people believe who need to reject the truth of God, but we know all we need to know – but the world seeks to keep us blind to the truth of God. When we face Him, it won’t work to say “well how was I supposed to know?” We know all we need to know and will be without excuse when we face God.

    • TwoRutRoad

      “… there are dozens of scientific facts in the Bible that scientists
      didn’t and couldn’t figure out until hundreds and thousands of years
      later.” That’s baloney. If you stretch and twist hard enough, you might sometimes think that’s true, but you don’t have to look very hard to find things that are absolutely wrong. It starts out wrong with the bronze-age thinking in Genesis.

  • Matt Solomon

    I, for one, welcome the rule of law.

    • Rachelthemillenial

      Of course. All laws are good, aren’t they? You would have supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which mandated that all US citizens report runaway slaves to the authorities.

      No such thing as a bad law, right?

      • Matt Solomon

        I’m fascinated at the comparison between an act that was predicated on an interpretation of the Constitution later found to be incorrect, that assaulted the fundamental dignity of a people, and that interjected long arm jurisdiction into the daily lives of regular citizens and a finding that ensures that the state remain neutral on religion.

        Next you’ll tell me apples and oranges are the same thing.

    • 0pus

      What a coincidence, so does Mike Solomon.
      The poor old thing got banned.