As reported on HeraldStandard.com, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed suit on behalf of a parent and her children against New Kensington-Arnold School District (NKASD), seeking the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of Valley High School. The federal lawsuit alleges that the 6-foot high stone monument outside of school endorses religion, and violates the separation of church and state.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that displaying the monument outside of a public school is unconstitutional, and to order that the monument be removed. FFRF is also seeking nominal damages and attorneys’ costs and fees.
In addition to the suit against NKASD, FFRF, along with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, has joined in a request by a law firm for an unidentified family that was sent to Connellsville Area School District seeking the removal of a Ten Commandments monument outside Connellsville Junior High School. In both cases, the monuments were donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, and both were erected in 1957.
NKASD Board President Robert Pallone vows the district will not remove the monument “without a fight” and said the district would litigate up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. “The claims of this organization are ridiculous and a complete travesty when you consider all the facts surrounding this situation,” Pallone said. “This entire situation is ludicrous and a frivolous lawsuit and request by a radical group.”
The suit alleges the monument is tantamount to the district espousing a particular religious view, and that the monument puts pressure on those who see it to adopt that view. In Connellsville, the monument remains covered, however, the Board recently voted to leave it where it is, putting the ball into the court of the organizations that wish to challenge its location.
Source: HeraldStandard.com, 9/19/12, By Jennifer Harr
[Editor's Note: In FFRF's press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit, it states:
The District's posting of Ten Commandments monument at the high school not only endorses and advances religion, but "also impermissibly coerces students to suppress their personal religious and non-religious beliefs and adopt the favored religious view of the District." The District also usurps parental authority.
The sole count of FFRF's federal complaint alleges that the display of the monument on school grounds violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
In March 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Valley News Dispatch, which reported that FFRF had sent a letter to NKASD officials asking them to remove the Ten Commandments display.
In July 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, which reported that a federal district court judge had 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. ]