Marriage is love.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jewish Week Editorial: Solomonic Judgment

Those who hoped the Supreme Court would resolve once and for all the issue of religious displays on public property are bound to be disappointed by Monday’s split decisions on the Ten Commandments. The justices ruled that displays of framed Ten Commandment prints in Kentucky courthouses are a breach of church-state law, but a large monument at the Texas state capitol is acceptable because it is part of a broader display that includes secular as well as religious content.


The justices chose wisely not to bar displays of a fundamental part of America’s legal and moral heritage, but also to limit them; displays created primarily to advance religion in general, or one religion in particular, represent a crossing of the church-state line, they concluded.

That seems a tacit recognition that much of the current drive for monuments, plaques and other Ten Commandments paraphernalia has narrowly sectarian motives, pushed by groups determined to publicly affirm the nation’s Christian heritage. The decisions’ focus on the murky area of motivation will undoubtedly produce a wave of new litigation, but it is an important statement by the High Court.

Jews, more than any other religious group, revere the Ten Commandments. We have a special interest in ensuring that while serving as critical moral guideposts for our nation, they not be turned into more fodder for society’s culture wars. The measured, thoughtful tone of Justices on both sides of the two decisions was a welcome respite from the posturing and shouting of so many politicians on the subject.