Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
A lawsuit was filed in the district on behalf of two members of the Wicca Religion by the American Civil Liberties Union against the city. Judge Parker’s ruling stated the city had violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to United States Constitution.
In his ruling, Judge Parker wrote in part:
“…The Ten Commandments monument is government speech regulated by the Establishment Clause because the Ten Commandments monument is a permanent object located on government property and it is not part of a designated public forum open to all on equal terms…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 had the primary or principal effect of endorsing religion.”
A statement from the ACLU read in part:
“This decision is a victory for the First Amendment’s protections against government endorsed religion,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “We firmly support the right of individuals, religious groups, and community associations to publicly display religious monuments, but the government should not be in the business of picking which sets of religious beliefs belong at city hall. We hope that the Ten Commandments monument will find a new home on private property in the city where people can continue to enjoy it.”
“Bloomfield residents come from many different religious traditions, and the government should never discriminate amongst them by lifting up one above the other,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Alexandra Freedman Smith. “Not only does this monument run afoul of the First Amendment, but it sends an exclusionary message to members of the community who do not subscribe to the particular set of religious beliefs inscribed there. The government belongs to us all, and it should not marginalize community members because of their faith.”
There have been several cases filed on similar merits such as in the Sixth District and there are more likely to come forth, likely commensurate with any newly constructed monuments. Some backers of the monuments believe that the United States was founded on such values and, alternatively, the commandments are also secular tenets benefiting a peaceful society.
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By Darren Smith
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