Charlie Jay | TyrantWatch

In an attempt to have the Ten Commandments removed from the Itawamba County courthouse in Mississippi, the Freedom From Religion Foundation cited in a letter to the Board of Supervisors that the Supreme Court Ruled in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, 545 U.S. 844 (2005) that the Ten Commandments display is unconstitutional in a government establishment. What they did not tell the board is on that same day, the Supreme court ruled in Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005) that the display is constitutional based on the historical and secular value of the document.

Please read the rulings for yourself:

Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005), was a United States Supreme Court case involving whether a display of the Ten Commandmentson a monument given to the government at the Texas State Capitol in Austin violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In a suit brought by Thomas Van Orden of Austin, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in November 2003 that the displays were constitutional, on the grounds that the monument conveyed both a religious and secular message. Van Orden appealed, and in October 2004 the high court agreed to hear the case at the same time as it heard McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, a similar case challenging a display of the Ten Commandments at two county courthouses in Kentucky.

The appeal of the 5th Circuit’s decision was argued by Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law scholar and the Alston & Bird Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, who represented Van Orden on a pro bono basis. Texas’ case was argued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. An amicus curiae was presented on behalf of the respondents (the state of Texas) by then-Solicitor General Paul Clement.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2005, by a vote of 5 to 4, that the display was constitutional. Chief Justice William Rehnquist delivered the plurality opinion of the Court; Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in the judgment but wrote separately. The similar case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky was handed down the same day with the opposite result (also with a 5 to 4 decision). The “swing vote” in both cases was Breyer.

And that same day:

McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, 545 U.S. 844 (2005), was a case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 2, 2005. At issue was whether the Court should continue to inquire into the purpose behind a religious display and whether evaluation of the government’s claim of secular purpose for the religious displays may take evolution into account under an Establishment Clause of the First Amendment analysis.

In a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the displays—in this case, a Ten Commandments display at the McCreary County courthouse in Whitley City, Kentucky and a Ten Commandments display at the Pulaski County courthouse—were unconstitutional. The appeal from that decision, argued by Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, urged reformulation or abandonment of the “Lemon test” set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, which has been applied to religious displays on government property and to other Establishment Clause issues.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2005, in a 5-4 decision, that the display was unconstitutional. The same day, the Court handed down another 5-4 decision in Van Orden v. Perry with the opposite outcome. The “swing vote” in the both cases was Justice Stephen Breyer.

By not informing the board of the historical and secular clause applied in Van Orden vs Perry, the FFRF was able to mislead the county supervisors by having them believe the case was irrelevant. Perhaps knowing this will help them to realize there is a case, a case that has been won before. Good luck, Itawamba County, and we will keep you informed of any future updates.


  1. I’m from Itawamba county and I think it is a shame we have let an organization from a different state bully us into anything this is our home not there’s why should we let them tell us what we can do and our official’s let them do this where is there backbone I never thought I’d be ashamed of my home town but I am at this point


  2. Anybody else seeing people trying to say they didnt vote to take it down? The news said different. Are they lying because people are mad and they are scared they gonna lose their jobs? Seem to me like they trying to cover their tracks!!! Also, saw someone say they saving the countt money. I guess money is more important that God huh?


  3. I saw on FB the next board meeting has been scheduled for the 18th of Feb at 8:30 am. Are these board meetings public? I would like to go and see what is being talked about…but it being at 8:30 in the morning I would have to take off work to attend 😦


    1. Yes the board meetings are public, and according to MS Code the board is to make all decisions regarding the county based on the concerns of the citizens in these public meetings. I am not from Itawamba County but I am a MS resident. I think the timing could definately have been better…8:30 in the morning is sure not to have many people show up. Of course, that may be the boards intention…


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