The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski has approved a settlement in a lawsuit that sought to remove the Ten Commandments from the walls of a southwest Virginia high school. The judge dismissed the lawsuit in his endorsement of the settlement, which detailed the substitution of Narrows High School’s framed copy of the Ten Commandments with an enlarged image from a textbook that contains a drawing of stone tablets representing the commandments.
Giles County school officials adopted the agreement after Judge Urbanski ordered the case to mediation in May 2012. The settlement agreement also stipulates that the student and parent who brought the lawsuit remain anonymous, and that the school board cannot hang another copy of the Ten Commandments unless case law is changed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Giles County School Board voted 3-2 in June 2011 to hang an 11-document display containing the Ten Commandments on the walls of the school. The two dissenting school board members felt the school would not be able to afford the cost of legal battles if a suit was brought.
In September 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union brought a suit against the school board on behalf of an anonymous Narrows High School student and parent regarding the display. The Lynchburg, Va.-based Liberty Counsel represented the Giles County School Board on a pro bono basis.
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 7/4/12, By Staff
[Editor's Note: In May 2012, Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in The Virginian-Pilot, which reported that Judge Urbanski had sent the suit to mediation. The judge had urged both sides to consider whether the display could leave out four commandments that have “God” in the wording. Both sides wanted the judge to rule in the case without going to trial.]