Arkansas Asks for Stay in 10 Commandments Lawsuit Citing Bladensburg Cross Case

Arkansas Asks for Stay in 10 Commandments Lawsuit Citing Bladensburg Cross Case January 28, 2019

Attorneys for the State of Arkansas have asked for a temporary stay of proceedings in the legal challenge to Stanley J. Rapert’s (R-Conway) 10 Commandments monument on the Arkansas Capitol grounds. Arkansas Times reports:

“The motion from attorneys representing the state say the case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court presents the question “whether the constitutionality of a passive display incorporating religious symbolism should be assessed under the tests articulated in [previous U.S. Supreme Court cases from 1971, 2005 and 2014], or some other test.”

State Claims Bladensburg Cross Appeal Could Affect Arkansas Case

In October of 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a 30-foot cross monument in Prince George’s County, Maryland was unconstitutional. A subsequent appeal attempt before the entire 4th Circuit in March of 2018 also failed when the court (in an 8-6 ruling) denied a rehearing of the case. Then, this past November the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) agreed to hear a final appeal to the case. Last week SCOTUS announced that oral arguments in the Bladensburg case are scheduled for February 27th.

In the new move from Arkansas, the state’s attorney’s claims that the Bladensburg case’s central issue “is the constitutionality of a passive display that incorporates religious symbolism,” arguing that a SCOTUS ruling on the constitutionality of the Maryland cross monument “is likely to simplify and clarify the legal standard that controls the disposition of the principal claims” and that the Arkansas case should be halted until SCOTUS renders a verdict.

Rapert Says His Monument isn’t ‘Religious’

I think this is where things get fun. In the original bill that Arkansas passed to erect Pastor Rapert’s monument they tried to weasel around the 10 commandments being decidedly religious iconography by inserting language to simply insist that they aren’t.

“(3) The Ten Commandments represent a philosophy of government 32 held by many of the founders of this nation and by many Arkansans and other 33 Americans today, that God has ordained civil government and has delegated 34 limited authority to civil government, that God has limited the authority of civil government, and that God has endowed people with certain unalienable 36 rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”

Let’s ignore the bit about how just mentioning god so many times kind of ignores that it does endorse theistic religion over non-theistic religion and non-religion for the time being. It’s significant, but taken in concert with Rapert’s other statements about the monument it sets up a very Schrodinger’s cat like proposition because Rapert has repeatedly asserted that the monument is not religious and is instead meant to honor “the historical foundations of law”.

And again in his press release on the monument’s reinstallation in May:

“The sole reason we donated this monument to the State of Arkansas is because the Ten Commandments are an important component to the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas.”-Jason Rapert

Again and again, Rapert continues to justify his monument by asserting that it is not a religious monument. How then, one must wonder, does a case involving a privately donated religious monument have any bearing on the Arkansas 10 Commandments? If Arkansas is admitting the religiosity of the monument then it would seem, to me, to hurt their case instead of help it.

On Friday the judge in the Arkansas Case said she won’t rule on the request to stay proceedings until lawyers for the plaintiffs have had time to respond in writing.

About Jack Matirko
Jack Matirko is an activist, blogger, and podcaster focussing on issues of church and state separation. He runs Patheos' Satanic Blog For Infernal Use Only (patheos.com/blogs/infernal), co-hosts the Naked Diner Podcast (patreon.com/nakeddiner), and is a member of The Satanic Temple-Arizona Chapter. His opinions are his own. To contribute to his work please consider becoming a patron of his podcast. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • igotbanned999

    Is his name pronounced ‘rape hurt’? Even if it’s not, it should be.

  • WallofSleep

    “… that God has ordained civil government and has delegated limited authority to civil government…”

    Is that so? No, it is not.

    Republican democracy: Explicitly denied by the Bible.
    Rather than democracy, the Bible’s preferred model of government is a divine-right kingship, where one individual is hereditarily chosen and wields supreme power. This is what America’s founders were rebelling against when they brought forth this nation.

    Separation of powers: Explicitly denied by the Bible.
    As above, in the Bible’s divine-right monarchy, a single individual wields supreme power over all functions of government. Some apologists seek to find an equivalent in a verse from Isaiah 33 – “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king” – but what they overlook is that this verse explicitly envisions all three of these powers as being held by the same person.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2007/10/is-america-a-christian-nation-3/

  • Jim Jones

    The ‘t’ is silent.

  • Guzzman

    Senator Rapert bears false witness. He claims the Ten Commandments “are an important component to the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America.” Actually, the Ten Commandments had no influence on U.S. law. U.S. law largely derived from English common law. Based on an extensive analysis, Thomas Jefferson rejected the bogus claim that the Ten Commandments were ever a part of the common law.

    Rapert also likes to talk about the intentions of the Founders. Well, we have the Federalist Papers, written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. The purpose of the Federalist Papers was to explain each provision of the Constitution. In those essays they explain the origin of those provisions and there is not a SINGLE reference to the Ten Commandments, the Bible, Jesus, or to Christian theology.

    The Ten Commandments played no role in our nation’s legal system. In fact, most of the Commandments would be blatantly unlawful. For example, “I am the LORD thy God… Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” With the very first Commandment the biblical god is saying he’s the only one, and all other religions that have other gods, or other versions of “The One God”, are wrong. That blatantly contradicts the First Amendment which prohibits government from taking a position on religious beliefs.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    The old testament has 613 commandments( for the Hebrews),not 10. The old testament calls one list from the 613 the 10commandments.

    The ones on the monument are NOT the ones the Bible calls the 10 commandments.

    ….and if the US is a Christian nation,why do they even want to put up a Hebrew monument?