The city of Elkhart had recommended adding the four markers next to the monument to resolve a dispute of more than three years, the Associated Press reported. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union had sued to get the monument removed and an appeals court ruled that its current display violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause.
U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp, whose original decision in the case was overturned by the appeals court, ruled Monday (March 11) in favor of the city.
The Ten Commandments monument was given to the city in 1958 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. City officials suggested adding memorials for four other documents that were considered influential in the country's legal system -- the Bill of Rights, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. Mayor Dave Miller said he hopes to pay for the additional monuments with private contributions.
Ken Falk, an attorney with the Indiana Civil Liberties Union said his group opposed the remedy. Michael Suetkamp, one of two city residents who was represented by the legal organization, said he was disappointed by the judge's order and was not satisfied with the city's suggestion of additional monuments.
Francis J. Manion, a lawyer who represented the city of Elkhart, cheered the judge's decision. "We are pleased that the court has concluded that Elkhart's proposed display passes constitutional muster," said Manion, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, in a statement. "The Ten Commandments are clearly an important foundation of our legal system, and nothing in our Constitution prohibits government from acknowledging that fact."
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Elkhart case in May 2001, leaving Sharp to resolve the matter.