(RNS) An Ohio county court judge who argued that it was his First Amendment right to hang a poster about the Ten Commandments in his courtroom was overruled Wednesday (Feb. 2) by a federal appeals court.
Judge James DeWeese of Richland County, Ohio, had argued that “judges are not First Amendment orphans” as he sought over the last decade to post the biblical laws. In the latest case, he created a poster that compared the commandments’ “moral absolutes” and humanism’s “moral relatives.”
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DeWeese’s poster is unconstitutional because it is “an explicit endorsement of religion.”
Francis Manion, an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice who represented DeWeese, said it is likely the Ohio judge will appeal.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington watchdog group that filed a brief in the case against DeWeese, welcomed the decision.
“Our courts are supposed to provide equal justice for all, not promote religious law,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United. “Judges should never send the message that some religious traditions have a preferred place in the courtroom.”