A Kentucky Circuit Court judge has ruled that a 1978 state law providing for the display for the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms violates neither state nor U.S. consitutional provisions for the separation of church and state.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Squire Williams Jr. held that the law does not favor one religion over others and may be implemented by the Kentucky Department of Education.
The judge dismissed a suit filed by five Louisville area residents challenging the law and dissolved a temporary injunction that had blocked the state from placing the commandments in public classrooms.
Judge Williams said the 1978 law meets a four-factor test that has evolved in court rulings concerning questions of religious freedom and the protections of the federal Consitution.
The judge said that the law has a secular legislative purpose, that its principal effect neither advances nor inhibits religion, that it does not foster an excessive government role in religion and that it does not create the potential for divisive political effects.
Williams said in his opinion that the state's role in helping distribute 16-by-20-inch copies of the Ten Commandments in public classrooms does not involve excessive government involvement in religion because the state superintendent of public instruction is only required to ensure that the commandments be displayed.
"The government's part begins and ends with hanging the Ten Commandments on the wall," Williams said.
He noted that the Kentucky General Assembly had clearly directed that the Ten Commandments were to be used for a secular purpose as part of the fundamental legal code of western civilization and the common law of the United States.