June 10, 2009

How's the strict construction working for ya

Ex-president George W. Bush, who promised to nominate only "strict constructionist" jurisprudes, manifested himself at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday when a three-judge panel voted unanimously to order a Ten Commandments monument removed from an Oklahoma courthouse.

The eight-foot-high stone monument bears what was described as "a butchered paraphrase" of the King James Bible — and even a typo: "adultry" — and was erected on public property by a local construction worker and part-time minister, also named Bush.

The record shows he did so deliberately and in prospective defiance of the likely outcome, that it would be ordered removed, in which sense he was OT Prophet-like. He also appended to the monument the text of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, which contains an approving reference to "the advancement of the Christian faith."

Which is to say, not exactly the sort of ecumenical sentiment guaranteed to survive Establishment Clause scrutiny.

That text was added after the local board of county commissioners had approved the Ten Commandments and without their knowledge.

He added still more text, a disclaimer that the block was put up by the "citizens of Haskell County" after the lawsuit was filed, in the hopes of further insulating the giant stone idol from litigation. Sadly, the latter act had an effect directly opposite to the one intended.

At one point the plaintiff, Green, averred that he greatly preferred the "later teachings of Jesus" to the "terroristic" warnings contained in the Old Testament, from whence the admonitions against "adultry" and the related coveting of the neighbors' bullocks are derived.

The decision, Green v. Haskell County (.pdf; 52 pgs.), contains a fairly standard-issue Establishment Clause analysis, but what's notable is that all three panelists, Jerome A. Holmes, Harris L. Hartz, and Terrence L. O'Brien, were anointed by George W. Bush.

Strict construction worker, meet strict constructionists.

Yet the Okie religionists remain unbowed, according to the AP:
"Whoever was the judge in this, I feel sorry for him on Judgment Day," said Haskell County Commissioner Mitch Worsham. "We're not going to take it down."
Court: Display is religious — Muskogee (OK) Phoenix.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I like that Green fella who filed the lawsuit, all quotin' Monty Python up in the court and whatnot.