The 8th District’s Representative Hostettler has successfully attached an amendment to H.R. 2862 which prohibits federal money from funding marshals in any effort to enforce the order of Judge Richard L. Young of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in the ten commandments case of Russelburg v. Gibson County, decided January 31, 2005. (PDF document)
Back in February, Hostettler sent George Bush a letter urging Bush not to enforce the court’s order because the order, while consistent with past jurisprudence, “is inconsistent with both the clear intent of the Framers and the Christian heritage of the United States.” Hostettler argues that Presidents can order the U.S. Marshals office not to enforce court orders if the President happens to disagree with the court’s opinion.
The court describes the monument (pdf document) at issue and the grounds of the Gibson County court house as follows:
The Defendant, Gibson County, Indiana has its County Courthouse in Princeton, Indiana. Courts and the offices of many of Gibson County’s elected officials are housed in the Gibson County Courthouse. Located on the courthouse grounds is a monument given to Gibson County by local Lodge 361 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It was presented to the county in 1956. The monument is four feet in height and two feet in width. It is a cleft shaped stone monument and is inscribed with the following version of the Ten Commandments:
The Ten Commandments
I am the Lord thy God
I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
II. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
III. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
IV. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
V. Thou shalt not kill.
VI. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
At the bottom of the Ten Commandments, located in the center of the monument, is the letter X superimposed upon the letter P which is Christ’s monogram, forming the first two Greek letters of Jesus name. Below the Ten Commandments text, on either side of the monument, is a Star of David, a well known symbol of the Jewish religion. The text at the bottom of the monument discloses that it was presented to Gibson County by the Princeton Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. At the top of the monument is a triangle with an eye within it, much like that which is depicted on the one dollar bill. Immediately below the triangle, directly above the text of the Ten Commandments, there is carved into the monument an eagle clutching the American flag in its talons. The County Courthouse is located in a square formed by North Main Street to the east, North Hart Street to the west, State Street to the north and Broadway to the south.
Outside the Courthouse there are grounds bounded by sidewalks bordering the four streets with street lights evenly distributed to illuminate the square and the sidewalk, and there are a number of monuments of different shapes and sizes in addition to the monument which is the subject of this case. On the grounds on the south side of the courthouse there are separate memorials to fallen officers, Revolutionary War Veterans buried in Gibson County, veterans of World War I and II, and veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. On the south-east corner of Broadway and Main Street there is a Civil War Monument, as well as a Memorial to Desert Storm and Desert Shield. There are no monuments on the east side of the Courthouse. On the corner of Main and State Streets, on the north-east side of the courthouse, sits the stone monument containing the Ten Commandments (“the monument”) . It sits below a light fixture and is flanked by bushes.
The jist of the opinion in the Gibson County Ten Commandments case is this:
while a large majority of those that pass by the monument in Princeton may find its inscription to be consistent with their intentions and beliefs, Plaintiffs and perhaps numerous others do not share that same feeling. Our forefathers strived to craft a Constitution and Bill of Rights which took into account the need for government to be “of all the people,” no matter what religious beliefs they hold or choose not to hold. It is the considered opinion of those that interpret the law in this circuit that the display of a Ten Commandments monument, such as is at issue here, on the lawn of the seat of local government is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which dictates that our government not appear to promote, discourage or endorse any particular religious beliefs.
Consequently, Judge Young ordered the monument removed. It is this court order that Representative Hostettler seeks to defy.