By Cheryl Chumley
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said the monument of the Ten Commandments will stay on Capitol property for the time being, despite the state’s highest court ruling it must go.
The Tulsa World said both Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt have asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling against the presence of the monument on the government parcel of land.
“Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong,” Pruitt said, in a statement reported by Fox News. “The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union sued and won its plea to remove the monument last week, when the court ruled 7-2 its presence violated the state’s constitution.
That portion reads: “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”
The monument itself was funded privately, out of the pocket of Republican Rep. Mike Ritze. But the court found the display “obviously religious in nature,” Fox News reported.
Fallin disagrees, and says she’s not going to remove what she says is a historical monument, at least for now. She also announced in a press conference voters in the state will have a chance to decide if they want the Oklahoma Constitution amended so that the monument can stay permanently.
“Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions,” she said, Fox News reported. “However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.”
The legislature won’t be back in session until February, and any amendment to the constitution would have to be submitted to a vote of the people.
“At this time, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, with my support, has filed a petition requesting a rehearing of the Ten Commandments case. Additionally, our Legislature has signaled its support for pursuing changes to our state Constitution that will make it clear the Ten Commandments monument is legally permissible,” Fallon added. “If legislative efforts are successful, the people of Oklahoma will get to vote on the issue.”
The ACLU, meanwhile, characterized Fallin’s move as illegal.
“Frankly, I would be astonished if we get to a point where the governor outright defies an order of our state’s highest court,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma, Fox News said. “That said, if she does, there is a word for it. It is called contempt.”