The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

First Amendment

What explained the difference between the two 2005 decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court?

There were significant factual differences between the Texas park case and the Kentucky courthouse case. The monument in the Texas park had been there for nearly 40 years and it was surrounded by many other monuments. It also was located in a park where people did not have to visit on a daily basis. The displays in the Kentucky courthouses were there for a much shorter time, originally not surrounded by other displays and were located in a courthouse.

However, these differences did not matter for eight of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices. Four justices voted to uphold both displays and four justices voted to strike down both displays. It was only Justice Steven Breyer who voted to uphold the Texas monument and strike down the Kentucky display. This leaves this area of the law less than clear, which explains why there are so many Ten Commandment lawsuits in the country now.

It is still an ongoing debate whether or not prayer in public schools violates the separation of Church and State (iStock).

This is a web preview of the "The Handy Law Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App