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McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

United States Supreme Court
545 U.S. 844 (2005)


Facts

Executives of McCreary County and Pulaski County (defendants) posted versions of the Ten Commandments on the walls of their courthouses. In 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU) (plaintiff) sued the counties in federal district court on the grounds that the displays violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Before the district court ruled, the counties expanded their displays on two occasions and issued resolutions stating that the Ten Commandments were their “precedent legal code.” They surrounded the Ten Commandments with additional, framed historical non-religious documents in what was called the “Foundations of American Law and Government Exhibit.” The district court ruled that all three displays had a religious purpose and thus violated the Establishment Clause, and the court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

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Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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