The Arkansas 10 Commandments monument is set to be reinstalled on their State Capital grounds next week and The Satanic Temple (as well as several other organizations) have said they will be filing lawsuits soon after calling the state’s refusal of TST’s Baphomet statue application an “unconstitutional (at both the state and federal level) act of government viewpoint discrimination”.
Zero Interest in Public Hearing
Last week the Arkansas Senate Grounds Commission held a public hearing for comments on changes to the 10 commandments structure which was attended by no one. That shouldn’t really be a surprise, they were only discussing the addition of posts to block cars like the one that crashed into the first statute. At best, any criticism brought up in such a meeting would have delayed the installation.
This didn’t stop the monument’s leading advocate, state Senator Jason Rapert, from claiming that utter apathy is equivalent to unanimous consent on his twitter feed, but that too is hardly a surprise.
— Sen. Jason Rapert (@jasonrapert) December 8, 2017
The ground truth is that Rapert seems to have made a big mess for his state with this whole monument fiasco since the state will be hit by lawsuits from both sides. While The Satanic Temple’s argument is a fight for inclusivity in a public forum, other groups who plan to file suit as well will be arguing that the forum shouldn’t be there in the first place. This really limits Arkansas’ options. They’ll need to argue in one case that the forum is not exclusionary of other viewpoints, while at the same time in the TST case argue the right to be exclusionary.
Rapert, of course, still maintains that the monument is not religious in nature, but a monument to the ‘historical foundations of law’. That’s a smoke screen of course. The monument was funded by religious donations, championed by people with clearly theocratic intentions, and let’s be honest if you really want to make a statue to the historicity of codified law the 10 commandments isn’t even a great example since they post-date Hammurabi’s code by a few hundred years. Such things don’t really matter to Stanley Jason Rapert though in his quest to try and codify religious privilege.
I genuinely don’t see a good way out for them, but they don’t seem willing to budge so to court everyone will go. I have it on good authority we can expect to see multiple lawsuits filed in the case shortly after the start of the new year.