Baltimore, Md., Aug 19, 2016 / 12:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A monument of the Ten Commandments outside a Maryland courthouse is safe, after a lawsuit against it was dropped this week. The monument was donated in 1957 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It stands on the courthouse grounds in Allegany County, near a monument to George Washington.
Jeffrey Davis, a man living in the neighboring county but owning property in Allegany County, had filed a lawsuit saying that he was offended by the monument. He dropped that lawsuit Tuesday, without offering his reason for doing so. The monument in question was similar to one, also donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. That monument was upheld by the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2005 that it did not violate the Establishment Clause.
Attorneys defending the Maryland monument applauded the dropping of the lawsuit. “The emotional response of an offended passerby doesn’t automatically amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” said Brett Harvey, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the Allegany County commissioners alongside Jones Day attorneys. The attorneys had previously filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“Mr. Davis was right to end his quest to uproot this monument, which is virtually identical to a monument in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld,” Harvey said. “Because the county’s monument would survive constitutional scrutiny, we are pleased that it will be able to stay.”
The Supreme Court has questioned such “offended observer” claims. In 2014, the court said in Town of Greece v. Galloway that adults “often encounter speech they find disagreeable; and an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views.”