Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Requests Ruling on Foundations of American Law and Government Display
Donated display includes copy of the King James version of the Ten Commandments
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher has asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to clarify an order it issued in 2006 to enjoin the display of a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol Grounds.
A motion filed Oct. 29 by the Governor’s Office of General Counsel asks the court to stipulate that the injunction does not apply to a recently donated “Foundations of American Law and Government” display. The motion further contends that the display is constitutional since it has a predominately secular purpose and other federal courts have upheld identical displays.
The request was made after the “Foundations” display was donated to the Governor’s Office by a private citizen. In addition to a King James version of the Ten Commandments, the display includes a copy of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, the national motto, “In God We Trust,” the preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a picture of Lady Justice.
“After receiving this display – and hundreds of phone calls from constituents questioning why the Ten Commandments aren’t on display in the Capitol – I directed my general counsel to seek clarification of the existing court order,” said Governor Fletcher. “It is obvious that this subject is a passionate one for citizens across the Commonwealth. It is our duty to determine the legality of displaying these documents.”
The documents in the “Foundations” display are all of the same size and each is accompanied by a statement describing its historical and legal significance. The display is identical to the displays posted in the Mercer and Rowan County Courthouses and upheld as constitutional in ACLU v. Mercer County, Ky., 432 F.3d 624 (6th Cir. 2005) and ACLU v. Rowan County, Ky., --- F.Supp.2d ---, 2007 WL 2780386 (E.D. Ky. 2007).
In March 2006, Governor Fletcher signed HB 277 into law. That legislation directs the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to retrieve the Ten Commandments Monument donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles and relocate it to the Capitol grounds.
However, in June 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky entered an order preventing the display of the monument until the court reviews the state’s plan for the display and determines that it complies with applicable legal precedents.
On Oct. 29, 2007, the Governor's Office of General Counsel entered an appearance in the same federal court seeking to clarify the 2006 order.
If the court grants the motion, the Governor will promptly issue an executive order directing the Finance Cabinet to post the “Foundations” display inside the Capitol building for the purpose of educating citizens about the foundations of our law and government.