Amendment One: Displaying Ten Commandments and religious freedom

Amendment One: Displaying 10 Commandments

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Supporters of displaying the Ten Commandments remember the controversy with former Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore lost his position the first time in 2003 after putting a Ten Commandments monument in the state Judicial Building.

Voters will decide if Amendment One will become a part to the state constitution.

Amendment One says, “Providing for certain religious rights and liberties; authorizing the display of the Ten Commandments on state property and property owned or administrated by a public school or public body; and prohibiting the expenditure of public funds in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment.”

Eric Johnston, an attorney with the Southeast Legal Institute, a religious freedom law firm, supports the amendment.

“We also have a religion clause. We have the Alabama religious freedom amendment. This will supplement that and cements a little better to say we believe in religious freedom in this state,” Johnston said.

In addition to the Ten Commandments portion of the bill, the conservative attorney said the religious freedom aspect of the amendment is very important.

The ACLU of Alabama opposes the amendment.

“Amendment One is an open invitation particularly to school districts to get themselves sued for displaying the ten commandments in an unconstitutional manner,” Randall Marshall, the Executive Director of the ACLU in Alabama said.

A Birmingham attorney questions the need for the amendment.

“When I read it, it seems redundant to a lot of things already in place. The United States Constitution, First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of religion,” Roger Appell said.

Lineville State Senator Gerald Dial has sponsored the Ten Commandments bill for 14 years. Dial said no state funds will be used to defend it and he has volunteer groups ready to donate services to defend any court challenge.

Dial said the purpose of the amendment is to have any court action defended by the state of Alabama and not by any school or local official.

Critics question if no public funds will be used in these legal cases.

It will be up the voters to decide on the November ballot if the Ten Commandments will return to schools in Alabama. Then we will find out how many lawsuits will be filed and who will pay for them.

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