Judge: State has 30 days to remove Ten Commandments monument from state capitol

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Big changes are coming to the state Capitol grounds.

Friday, District Judge Thomas Prince ordered the state remove the Ten commandments monument within 30 days.

You’ll remember our state’s highest court ruled in June that the religious monument on public property violates the Oklahoma constitution.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a last minute court document alleging that section of the constitution is hostile toward religion.

The judge denied that motion.

“The what has already been decided. We were really here today to talk about the how,” said ACLU legal director Brady Henderson. “So, the judge very rightly says, ‘I can’t go back and reconsider all the what. I can’t go back and litigate this whole case two years later.’”

The supreme court’s decision upset a lot of people.

The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, said its clients are Christians and did not set out to anger other Oklahomans.

“Their interest in this case was to protect the integrity of their deeply held religious beliefs from being co-opted by a bunch of politicians for political purposes,” said ACLU executive director Ryan Kiesel.

Attorneys for the state also handed the judge a bill Friday, pointing out efforts by some lawmakers to amend the section of the Oklahoma constitution that led to the supreme court’s decision.

Ultimately, the judge said he would not make a decision based on what could happen in the legislature.

Attorneys for the state argued, “Why not just cover it with a tarp, at least for now?”

The ACLU said that would only leave things in limbo, and the judge agreed.

“It doesn’t really change the status quo, and it’s really not what the Supreme Court ordered,” Henderson said.

The only thing Pruitt can do now is get an emergency order from the state supreme court.

Pruitt issued this statement Friday afternoon:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s stunningly broad interpretation of Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution created a hostility toward religion that violates the balance struck by the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion. The Legislature
should give voters the opportunity to rectify this problem by allowing Oklahomans to vote on removing Article II, Section 5 from the Oklahoma Constitution. I fully support removal of this provision of the Oklahoma Constitution in order to reconcile the conflict
– created by the state Supreme Court’s ruling – between the Oklahoma Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

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