Thou Shalt Keep Thy Monument

Less than one month after threatening an evangelical Christian group with legal action to force it to remove a Ten Commandments monument from private property (a front lawn) across from the U.S. Supreme Court, officials in the District of Columbia decided yesterday not to push the issue after all. The Washington Post is reporting this morning that DC sent a letter to the folks at Faith and Action saying no permit is required: "In view of the First Amendment interests reflected in the installation of the Ten Commandments sculpture . . . and upon further consideration of applicable law..."

I've blogged about this story before. But after seeing the picture of the tiny monument in today's Post (click on the link in the first graph) I don't know why anyone would have bothered to make any sort of a big deal about this. The Justices aren't going to see the monument-- they probably know their commandments, anyway-- and District officials probably figured that the publicity a nasty lawsuit would have generated for the group would have defeated the purpose of trying to get the monument removed in the first place. I just don't want to be the first neighborhood bird or squirrel who decides to, uh, use the monument for a purpose for which it is not intended.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 27, 2006; 8:11 AM ET
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What can you expect from the town where pre-teens are arrested for eating french fries in the subway?

BTW, you wrote a very nice and reasonable op-ed piece today on the role of the press in criminal trials. The trouble is that like the rest of us hominids, the press will take the easiest root to a story and suck at the teat with the most information. In the beginning, this was the prosecutors office, now it is the defense. I think this judge is mishandling this case in two regards:
1. He should issue a gag order to stop the prosecution and now the defense from trying the case in public. He should have done this ages ago, at the very start.

2. He should move the case up. Waiting a full year is a miscarriage of justice. Given the publicity this case is harming the three accused, they deserve a chance to clear their name and the accusor / victim deserve a chance for justice if they are guilty. As her reputation is being trashed as much as the accuseds'.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | June 27, 2006 09:29 AM

Regarding Andrew Cohen's article about the Duke Lacrosse rape case: when this story first broke, the media published numerous stories which essentially presumed the guilt of the Lacrosse players. Now that much of the prosecution's "evidence" has been made public (e.g., police reports, statements written by witnesses such as Kim Roberts/Pittman, etc.), the media has, belatedly, realized that a rape probably did not occur. Having spent months villifying the lacrosse players and their families, some in the media are now questioning the ethics of a prosecutor who went on camera and repeatedly vouched for the accuser's credibility, while castigating the lacrosse players for refusing to cooperate with police, and calling them "hooligans." We now know that the accuser gave multiple contradictory versions of her rape story on the night of the party, and that she admitted having ingested a large amount of alcohol before even arriving at the party. We also know that the lacrosse players who were initially contacted by police did cooperate; they submitted to hours of police interviews (without requesting lawyers) and even volunteered to take polygraphs. I agree that the media coverage has now swung 180 degrees in the opposite direction from where it began; but I don't agree that this is the result of any collective insanity on the part of the media, as Cohen suggests. Instead, I believe that the media has finally realized that it was deceived by an unethical prosecutor who was pandering to the African-American community because he needed to win an election. If some media outlets (like Newsweek) have gone out of their way lately to present a sympathetic view of the lacrosse players, it is undoubtedly a result of their chagrin over having gone out of their way initially to portray the lacrosse players as guilty of a violent gang rape -- a rape that most reasonable people who've reviewed the available evidence now believe did not occur.

Posted by: Ned B. | June 27, 2006 10:41 AM

Good job Cohen you Theocrat...of course you wouldn't see the problems of ASS!

Posted by: Jeff Wismer | June 27, 2006 05:44 PM

I guess there are some folks who don't get the importance of having District officials respect the boundaries set by the First Amendment. In order to squelch the display, or to subject Faith and Action to a permit process, the District would be required to apply its rules even handedly and across the board. Take a walking tour of Capitol Hill and you soon realize that literally dozens of violations of the rule are on going. To enforce against the one installation that has religious content evinces a serious constitutionally forbidden bias.

Posted by: Jim Henderson | June 28, 2006 08:29 AM

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Posted by: lizbeth | July 2, 2006 06:10 AM

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Posted by: kori | July 23, 2006 11:36 AM

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Posted by: violet | July 27, 2006 01:03 PM

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