A copy of the Ten Commandments can remain on display with framed copies of American historical documents in the Mercer County, Ky., courthouse, federal judge Karl S. Forester ruled in Lexington. In his decision, released on Jan. 23, he concluded the display has "a legitimate purpose" of "acknowledging the historical influence of the Commandments on the development of this country's laws, and the record is devoid of any evidence indicating a religious purpose by the government."
The American Civil Liberties Union in November 2001 had sought an injunction to remove the Commandments on grounds it violated the Establishment Clause. Judge Forester rejected the request but gave the ACLU four months to come up with supporting reasons the display was unconstitutional. When the ACLU failed to respond by the extended deadline, the county's counsel-Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)-filed for summary judgment to dismiss the ACLU suit. Judge Forester approved the motion. The ACLU says it will appeal.
The ACLJ reported another victory on Jan. 23. Faced with an ACLJ lawsuit, the state of Kentucky announced it had revised its college scholarship program and removed a ban on grants to students pursuing "a degree in theology, divinity, or religious education." Students will now be treated equally.
The case involved Woods Nash, a junior at Cumberland College. He had been awarded $2,900 under the scholarship program in his freshman and sophomore years. But after he declared Philosophy/Religion for his major last fall, the state told him he was ineligible for further grants. The ACLJ took up his case.
Kentucky officials were aware of which direction the legal winds were blowing. One day after the ACLJ filed the Nash suit, the liberal-dominated U.S. Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld a ruling that struck down a Washington state policy of barring theology students from receiving state scholarship money.