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ACLU sues over Ten Commandments

Early edition: It took awhile to find a resident willing to go to court over the 6-ton religious monument on the Dixie County Courthouse steps.

Published February 7, 2007

CROSS CITY - It took almost three months, but the Dixie County Commission appears headed for court.

In what once seemed a near-impossible task in this heavily Protestant hamlet just west of Gainesville, religious civil liberties groups have found residents who are willing to sue the county government for displaying a 6-ton monument of the Ten Commandments on the courthouse steps.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida announced Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit against Dixie County in federal court.

The suit, which was filed in Gainesville late Tuesday, alleges that the monument violates the First Amendment clause that prohibits government-established religion.

The ACLU says it has about a dozen members in Dixie County, at least one of whom claims harm by the monument as he enters the courthouse to conduct business.

“When the government enters the pulpit to preach to the citizenry, that’s when the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution becomes violated,” said Glenn Katon, an ACLU lawyer. “Dixie County is in effect thumbing its nose at the Constitution by putting up this display, and we look forward to addressing this display in court.”

The Commission, which authorized placement of the monument last year, plans to fight the lawsuit.

Read earlier coverage of the case here.

[Last modified February 7, 2007, 13:02:28]

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