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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Best Line This Week

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled yesterday that the “Foundations of American Law and Government” display outside of the Elkhart County Courthouse did not violate the Establishment Clause because the Ten Commandments were included among a display of nine historical texts and symbols.

While the majority's announcement that the fact that “some person or group might be uncomfortable with the presence of the Ten Commandments in this display is not enough to require their removal,” is helpful, the legal test they applied in the case is squishier. The Court continues: “In a pluralistic society, reasonable people can usually tell the difference between preaching religion and teaching about the role of religion in our history. We are satisfied that Elkhart County is trying to teach, not preach, something about the Ten Commandments. The theme of the "Foundations" display is historical, emphasizing the origins of the American legal order; the historical thesis that underlies the display is that belief in God and the existence of inherent, God-given rights has played an important role in the genesis of basic concepts in American law and government.”

The far, far better line was from Reagan appointee Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook. In Judge Easterbrook's view, an early dismissal of the case would have been better than the "reasonable man" inquiry -- because such displays do not establish any religion. Writes Judge Eaterbrook: “‘Endorsement' differs from ‘establishment.’ A government does not ‘establish’ milk as the national beverage when it endorses milk as part of a sound diet.”

Very funny and very true. We should all raise our milk glasses (or better yet, the Society's Green Cup) to Judge Easterbrook.