‘Big 10’ monument okayed in House

Published 2:55 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

Without debate, the House voted 91-0 Monday to have a Ten Commandments monument placed on the grounds of the Louisiana Capitol.

Similar efforts have drawn legal challenges, but there was no controversy when Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport, brought the bill up for a vote Monday afternoon. The bill requires that the text on the monument be the same as that used on a monument at the Texas Capitol that was allowed under a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, Van Orden v. Perry.

The bill goes next to the Senate. It would require the governor’s commissioner of administration to arrange for the monument at a place to be determined on the Capitol grounds.

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Private entities would submit proposed designs for the monument, which could be up to 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. The bill states that the monument would be constructed and maintained at no cost to the state.

In the June 2005 Van Orden case, the high court, in a 5-4 ruling, allowed the Ten Commandments monument outside the Texas Capitol, in part because it sits in a vast park that “suggests little or nothing of the sacred.”

But in a second 5-4 decision that same day, the court struck down framed copies of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses, noting that officials had previously stated their purpose was to promote religion.

When a committee heard Williams’ bill earlier this session, Williams said he wants to “inform and to enlighten people about the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage.”