The bill specifies that “[t]he Ten Commandments, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Constitution of the Great State of Oklahoma, and other such historically significant documents are recognized throughout the world,” and are therefore worthy of display.
Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told Raw Story that this “unlettered little bill” is an attempt to “codify certain opinions into law.” After acknowledging that Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a “historically significant document” that meets Representative Bennett’s criteria for displaying on a monument, Greaves said that this is yet another attempt to establish the Ten Commandments as something “uniquely American” that played a “pivotal role in the establishment of the Constitution and constitutional law.”
The problem is that, here as elsewhere, Bennett fails to cite any material that would support that presumption. “It’s like it needs no citation — it’s just assumed that the Ten Commandments were somehow primary to the development of American law,” Greaves said.
He is also worried about the undue burden the passage of this law would put on the state’s Attorney General, as the bill declares that “[i]n the event that the legality or constitutionality of any such display is challenged in a court of law, the Oklahoma Attorney General is authorized to prepare and present a legal defense of the display.”
Greaves believes that such challenges would happen regularly, and have the potential to “strangulate” the Attorney General’s office.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.