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ACLU seeks $50,000 payment for Ten Commandments lawsuit

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County Commissioners may have to pay the American Civil Liberties Union attorneys a $50,000 settlement for the commissioners' decision to post the Ten Commandments April 18, 2002 in the Courthouse.

ACLU filed a lawsuit against the county the same day maintaining the posting was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Robert Echols ordered the Ten Commandments removed on behalf of the ACLU in June 2004, 68 days after it was posted. Commissioner Steve Sandlin removed the Ten Commandments on the judge's order.

"It will stay down," said County Mayor Ernest Burgess.

Burgess told the Steering Committee Wednesday the attorneys for the ACLU requested in excess of $70,000 for the payment of fees dealing with the lawsuit. The attorney representing the county negotiated for a lower $50,000 payment.

If paid, the settlement would end the lawsuit, Burgess said during an interview Friday.

Steering Committee members passed the request for payment without a recommendation to the full commission that meets Thursday night.

The judge hearing the case will probably accept the $50,000 in settlement fees, the mayor said.

County employees posted the Ten Commandments as part of a "Foundation of Law and American Government" display that included the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and a picture of a blindfolded "Lady Justice."

The ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit in behalf of seven Rutherford Countians stating the Ten Commandments posting was unconstitutional under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause because a government agency endorsed religion.

After the Ten Commandments were removed, ACLU Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said the removal was a "victory for religious freedom" and reaffirms the separation of church and state.

During the Steering Committee's discussion Wednesday, Burgess said the posting had to be "for secular purposes only," not religious reasons.

In essense, the county lost the lawsuit, Burgess said, later adding it was "the end of the story."

Sandlin said the injunction "ruffled a lot of feathers" but he still believes the Ten Commandments should be posted for religious reasons. While he disagrees with the law, Sandlin said the county had a responsibility to pay the fees.

Commissioner Mike Sparks called the payment a "shakedown by the ACLU" that prevents the county from using funds to pay for education.

The committee voted unanimously to send the payment request without a recommendation to the 21-member County Commission.

















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January 06, 2007 at 6:00pm
victory for religious freedom" and reaffirms the separation of church and state. Commissioner Mike Sparks sounds like a wingnut.
www.atheistactivist.org
January 06, 2007 at 6:00pm
I would have to disagree. The ten comandments are our fondation. Here is one example, Take a look at the money that you spend "In God We Trust" is on every bill that you touch. Everyone in the united states has no problem with spending money with that statement. When are people going to get a clue that our country was founded on Christan beliefs. Now that there is such a melting pot of different people and cultures in the united states we are expected to roll over and shrug our shoulders not to offend anyone and say "Oh, don't share your opinion because it may offend or bother someone that does not have the same beliefs. We have taken prayer out of our schools, out of work and out of government because of not wanting to offend anyone. It is such a shame. Look at our childeren, look at the work place and look at our government. If we would get off the "offending" thing and get back to the basics of what we as the united states was founded on, we would be in much better shape. I pray for the Lord to to reach out and open so many eyes before it is too late.
January 06, 2007 at 6:00pm
The money issue is a red herring, the phrase was not put on our currency till the 1930's, well after our "foundation."

The same goes for the christian belief lie, those Europeans were escaping forced state indoctrinated christian beliefs.

As to the melting pot, I rather call it a stew pot, our original immigrants were English, German, French, Russian and others. That is what is meant by the melting pot, not religious beliefs. Our country was founded on the belief of freedom of religion, all religions including no religion.

And my eyes are wide open, especially watchful of zealots like you.
January 06, 2007 at 6:00pm
The crux of the problem is not the ACLU. When the vote was taken to hang the Commandments, it was not done in the context of the Commandments being part of the foundation of our political history. They tried to say, "Oops! that's what we meant ..." but their original intent was well documented.

Am I remembering correctly that the effort was spearheaded by one woman going around from county to county appealing zealously that to not hang them would be the ruin of us all? She appealed to emotions and commissioners religious upbringing. Well intentioned as she may have been in her beliefs, the context that would have made the document okay to hang was absent.

The commissioners erred. The taxpayers have to pay for THEIR mistake. Let's just pay up and put it behind us.
January 06, 2007 at 6:00pm
The screen name "GrumpaED" seems to fit. You sound a little irritable. The comments that I had made were not directed straigt to you. You do not have to tell me that our country was founded on. I am well aware of it. The freedom of religon is awesome, it allows me openly show what I believe. I come from a long line of military an Christioan history and a lot of pride in our country. I know what it is founded on. The English, German and French - what do you think alot of the religious beliefs at that time were? Sure, everyone has the right to believe what they want. The very freedoms that I have used in posting my opinion stems from what we are founded on. The "zealots" comment was a little far out, don't you think?
January 07, 2007 at 6:00pm
Was the Constitution and it's amendments written only for the ACLU and it's members? What about all us other folks? Do we no longer have rights and civil liberties? Or is it that our rights have to be approved by the ACLU and the District Judges before we can have them?
January 07, 2007 at 6:00pm
i have to stick up for grumpaEd here. i don't think from his comments he's irrtiable. it sounds as if he's someone who has his own thoughts and convictions on religion. to which he is entitled to. every item he mentions in his posting there is true. there is nothing there in my view that was anything but a statement of facts, not directed at anyone, but stated FOR everyone. perhaps i'm wrong, but he stated things very well. if you took offense at it, then you're too thin-skinned.
January 07, 2007 at 6:00pm
Grump, check out www.AmericanDestiny.com

January 07, 2007 at 6:00pm
Hang on everyone - let's remember of what the ACLU is comprised - a bunch of shysters.
January 08, 2007 at 6:00pm
I have read the constitution over and over.
I'm still looking for something that says anything about separation of church and state.
The only thing I can find is the part that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF."
Can somebody explain to me how that equates to separation of church and state?
January 08, 2007 at 6:00pm
I have also read the Constitution of the United States. No where in that document is there anything saying that government and/or individuals can shove their religious beliefs down my throat. Too many think that "free exercise" gives them that right.

Babs, I stand by my statement, more so after your 2nd post rantings. BTW, after serving 23 years in the military, still alive after 74+ years, married to the same woman for over 52 years, raising five children and helping with eight grandchildren (another on the way,) one great-grandchild and several surrogate children, at times I do get a little grumpy.

And JD, thanks for your comments.
January 08, 2007 at 6:00pm
GrumpaEd, I don't see where I was ranting. You posted your opinion and I posted mine. That is the freedoms that we both share. You think one way, I think another. No way do I see that anything is being shoved down your throat. Congrats in the time served, the 52 yrs with the same woman and on all you the kids you have raised.
January 09, 2007 at 6:00pm
Ok Babs, we will agree to dis-agree. I took my blood pressure pill and am now calm.
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