In May the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed lawsuits against the State of Arkansas regarding the unconstitutionality of the State’s 10 Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capital. Today, The Satanic Temple (TST) has joined these suits, filing as an intervenor and arguing that they also have standing in the case.
The Lawsuits have been Consolidated
The ACLU and FFRF lawsuits were consolidated into one action last week. This triggered TST’s filing because while they agree with the unconstitutionality of a solitary religious monument on public grounds, TST asserts that they offer a competing remedy: the court ordered erection of TST’s Baphomet Monument.
“We moved to intervene due to our remedy not being addressed by the current lawsuit. Where other organizations have demanded the removal of the Ten Commandments Monument, The Satanic Temple petitioned for the placement of its own monument of Baphomet. It is a fundamental principle in the United States that when one religion is represented in a public forum the government may not then endorse that religion or disparage others. In this case, the State of Arkansas has done both.”-TST legal counsel Stu De Haan
From the filing:
“Movants are well acquainted with the litigation but have an independent theory of relief and an alternative prayer for relief from the Plaintiffs. More particularly, Movants are principally seeking a court order to require Defendants install Movant’s religious monument. Contrast Plaintiffs’ complaint at p. 31 (praying for an order to remove the Ten Commandments Monument) with Proposed Intervenor’s complaint in intervention at p. 9 (praying for an order to immediately place the Baphomet Monument or, alternatively, to remove the Ten Commandments Monument.)”
A Strategy of Inclusion
The reason TST is filing to intervene instead of simply join or support the existing lawsuit is a nontrivial point. While the ACLU and FFRF are arguing that the existence of any religious monument on government property is an endorsement and the monument should come down, TST is arguing instead that the monument could remain and still be constitutional if other monuments of different religions are established to demonstrate religious plurality. Basically, arguing for the removal of the religious monument (an argument that has been a perpetual thorn in the side of theocrats who see it as an attempt to remove religion from the public square) isn’t the only argument there is to make. In plaintiff Erika Robbins’ affidavit filed with the motion she stated:
“If my religious beliefs were accommodated, specifically by a court order to either erect the Baphomet monument or remove the Ten Commandments monument, my issue would be resolved. The placement of the Baphomet monument on public grounds would encourage me to visit these public grounds by symbolically acknowledging me and my faith and accepting me as a full citizen of the State.”
Put simply TST’s argument is that the solution can be more religion, not less, which is tantamount to a big ‘be careful what you wish for’ to theocrats who seek to impose only their own religious beliefs on the citizenry while excluding competing beliefs.
What Jason Rapert is Going to Complain About
Arkansas Senator Jason Rapert is going to complain that Lucien Greaves filed under the name Lucien Greaves because that name is known to be a pseudonym. That’s a legally pointless argument and by the way Jason’s real name is Stanley so I’ve never been sure why he thinks he can do it but Lucien can’t. The irony of it has always made me wonder if deep down he suspects that his case might not be very strong. If the best argument he’s got is Greaves uses a nom de plume then he’s in a lot of trouble.
The other argument Stanley likes to make is that the monument isn’t religious. We’ve covered the absurdity of that argument before here when covering the Arkansas monument’s re-installation.