Are Ten Commandments Monuments Legal? Pressure Mounts for Supreme Court to Rule

Georgia has joined a 23-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a New Mexico community's decision to allow a Ten Commandments monument on its city hall lawn.

Georgia has joined a 23-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a New Mexico community's decision to allow a Ten Commandments monument on its city hall lawn.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Wednesday that Georgia was joining the brief supporting Bloomfield's decision to allow the monument to be placed along side other monuments on the city hall property.

Earlier this year, Carr said in a news release, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a divided decision, relied on the Establishment Clause to uphold a district court's order to remove the monument.

The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

"The consistent application of our laws is paramount in maintaining the ideals of our democracy," Carr said. "Georgia joined this coalition because we agree that the Supreme Court's Establishment Clause jurisprudence needs to be clarified, especially in this area.

"Local governments need clear guidance as they consider whether to authorize or maintain historical displays on government property."

Depictions of the Ten Commandments appear on public property throughout the country and have been the subject of several notable lawsuits, including two that the U.S. Supreme Court resolved in 2005, Carr's office noted. Those decisions relied on different legal analyses to reach different outcomes, increasing confusion in lower courts about what the Establishment Clause prohibits and what it permits, his office said.

Led by the Texas attorney general, attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin are in the coalition, along with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

(c)2017 The Albany Herald, Ga.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.