News & Blog

Oklahoma Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss Atheists’ Ten Commandments Lawsuit

Cranford, NJ—American Atheists announced on Friday that its lawsuit concerning a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in American Atheists v. Thompson, et al will proceed as planned after a motion to dismiss was denied by the judge.

The 2,000-pound monument, donated to the state and installed in 2012, was commissioned following a 2009 bipartisan legislative measure requiring its presence. The suit alleges that the law, called the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act,” as well as the monument itself, are unconstitutional violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

One part of the motion was upheld: the case will proceed with two plaintiffs instead of three, since the judge found that plaintiff William Poire lacks standing.

“The judge made the right call and we’re moving forward,” said American Atheists President Dave Silverman. “We expected the state to try to get our case thrown out, and we expected the judge to deny them. This isn’t about a slab of rock; what we have here is clear-cut discrimination. This is about a law, on the books in the state of Oklahoma, that explicitly and specifically endorses the Abrahamic god over all others. That is not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American.”

Following the monument’s installation, the ACLU filed suit in state court and American Atheists filed at the federal level. An animal-rights group, a Pastafarian religion group, and others—including The Satanic Temple—have proposed monuments of their own, though the State Capitol Preservation Commission responsible for approving monuments has placed a moratorium on new monuments while the cases are pending.

More information is available on the American Atheists website here:
http://www.atheists.org/legal/current/oklahoma

Full text of the suit is here (PDF link):
http://atheists.org/file/oklahoma-10-commandments/20140113-filing.pdf

Text of Judge Robin J. Cauthron’s denial of motion to dismiss from May 22, 2014 (PDF link):
http://atheists.org/file/oklahoma-10-commandments/20140522-MTD-ruling.pdf

For more information, contact:
Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director 908-276-7300 x7, dmuscato@atheists.org

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

 

American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

Keywords: American Atheists, Oklahoma, Ten Commandments, Monument Display Act, Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, discrimination, motion to dismiss, lawsuit, State Capitol Preservation Commission, American Atheists v. Thompson, atheism, humanism, freethought

###