In a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, First Liberty Institute has been working with the Arkansas attorney general's office to protect the Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas Capitol grounds.
As AFN has reported, groups including The Satanic Temple, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), American Humanist Association, and the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers say the monument is a violation of the Establishment Clause, but First Liberty attorney Lea Patterson says the U.S. Supreme Court has already settled this debate.
"In fact, this particular Ten Commandments monument is identical to the Texas Ten Commandments monument, which the Supreme Court upheld in 2005," Patterson notes. "So, why are we back here again? That's a question for the other side, but we're doing what we can here to protect it."
In 2015, the Arkansas Legislature authorized the placement of the monument on the Capitol grounds. Less than 24 hours after it was erected in 2017, the privately-donated monument was destroyed when a man ran over it with his pickup truck. The replacement monument was placed in 2018.
"The Supreme Court has made pretty clear there is a strong presumption of constitutionality for monuments that follow in a long-standing tradition of recognizing the important role that religion plays in American society," says Patterson.
She asserts that "the myth" that anything public cannot touch anything even remotely religious is just wrong.
"There is religious symbolism throughout our society, and rightfully so," the attorney concludes.