Last week we wrote that a trial date has been set in the lawsuit over Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments.
The Arkansas Legislature passed a measure in 2015 authorizing the monument on the capitol grounds.
Shortly after it was unveiled, atheist groups and the Satanic Temple joined a lawsuit to have the monument removed.
Here are five things to know about Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments.
#1. The Monument is Identical to One Ruled Constitutional in Texas
In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court declared a Texas monument of the Ten Commandments constitutional.
The court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not stop the government from authorizing a monument or message that may contain religious content.
Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments is virtually identical to the one the court ruled constitutional in Texas.
#2. The Monument Was Not Paid for With Taxpayer Funds
Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments was privately-funded.
Act 1213 of 2015 authorizing the monument said, “The Secretary of State shall arrange for the monument to be designed, constructed, and placed on the State Capitol grounds by private entities at no expense to the State of Arkansas.”
The American History and Heritage Foundation provided the funding for the monument through donations from more than 800 individuals.
#3. Legislation Authorizing The Monument Received Bipartisan Support Among Lawmakers
Act 1213 of 2015 authorizing the Ten Commandments monument received support from both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature.
That was true of the votes taken in the Arkansas House as well as in the Arkansas Senate.
Altogether, 73% of Arkansas’ state legislators voted for Act 1213.
#4. The Monument Honors the Impact of the Ten Commandments on American History and the Rule of Law
The monument’s stated purpose is to honor the impact the Ten Commandments have had on American history.
Act 1213 or 2015 authorizing the monument says,
The Ten Commandments, found in the Bible at Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, are an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas; . . . The placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would help the people of the United States and of the State of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.
Historians have long recognized the Ten Commandments as one of the oldest examples of the rule of law in human history.
Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments simply recognizes that fact.
#5. The Monument is Not the Only One on the Capitol Lawn
The State Capitol’s grounds contain monuments commemorating Arkansas’ firefighters, law enforcement officers, Vietnam veterans, the Little Rock Nine, and others who have been part of state history.
The Capitol Building itself contains plaques, paintings, and statues recognizing different parts of American history.
The Capitol Building also hosts temporary exhibits and displays from private groups and individuals. These displays generally are tied to American history or to Arkansas.
It wouldn’t be right for the state to prohibit a monument honoring the Ten Commandments in Arkansas when it allows so many other displays in and around the Capitol Building.