Those crazy Louisianians are at it again! Apparently, a US District Court Judge has upheld the placement of a picture of Jesus in a Louisianian courthouse. The picture is placed within the broader context of a display featuring prominent lawmakers in history including Mohammed (with Koran), Charlemagne, Napoleon, and King Louis IX.
The decision in this case bares a striking similarity to the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2005 case Van Orden v. Perry. In that case the Court held that a Ten Commandments monument outside of the Texas State Capital was legitimately placed because it was part of a historical, non-religions display featuring other, non-religious monuments.
One of my favorite quotes from the article:
The former judge who bought the picture said in a sworn statement that he had no idea that it had any religious significance. “To me at the time it appeared to be a depiction of a lawgiver,” retired Judge James R. Strain Jr. said.
Thats funny, because this particularly lawmaker had a halo around his head. Even though I always picture Antonin Scalia with one, if I ever saw one in a painting, I would consider that a pretty good indication that the subject of said painting was more than just an above-average lawmaker.
We also mustn’t forget that the relevant portion of the US Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It certainly sounds to me like ‘Congress’ has made no law respecting an establishment of religion. Even though limitations that were originally placed exclusively on Congress have permeated down to the states, I’m not sure that expansion is a legitimate extension of the First Amendment by way of the Fourteenth.
Ultimately, this seems like a rather silly debate for both sides of the issue. Sure, more conventional lawmakers may have the right to honor some of their more eternal colleagues, but do they really have to pick Jesus? On the other hand, does the ACLU (or their client) really feel that offended by the painting of an incredibly commercialized, rather mainstream diety? Who cares! Thank God for Louisianians!