CLEVELAND, Ohio, February 3, 2011 ( – An appeals court has ruled that a poster displaying the Ten Commandments and condemning moral relativism in an Ohio courtroom violated the U.S. Constitution.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Wednesday that Richland County Common Pleas Court Judge James DeWeese violated the First Amendment rights of those in his courtroom by displaying a poster that contained both the Ten Commandments and DeWeese’s own comments arguing the conflict between moral relativism and sound litigation.

“There is a conflict of legal and moral philosophies raging in the United States. That conflict is between moral relativism and moral absolutism,” states the poster, hung in the courtroom in 2006, as cited by the court’s opinion. “We are moving towards moral relativism. All law is legislated morality. The only question is whose morality. Because morality is based on faith, there is no such thing as religious neutrality in law or morality.”

“Ultimately, there are only two views: Either God is the final authority, and we acknowledge His unchanging standards of behavior. Or man is the final authority, and standards of behavior change at the whim of individuals or societies.”

The court ruled that, although DeWeese claimed not be imposing his religion but only sought “to express [his] views about two warring legal philosophies,” the court ruled that his claim was a “sham” based on his explanations of previous displays.

“It is questionable whether Defendant has articulated a facially secular purpose.  However, assuming for the sake of argument that Defendant has stated a facially secular purpose, and giving that stated purpose its due deference, the history of Defendant’s actions demonstrates that any purported secular purpose is a sham,” stated the opinion.

The appeals court forced DeWeese to remove a similar display erected in 2000, which DeWeese said included the Ten Commandments in order “to express the belief that law comes either from God or man, and to express his belief that God is the ultimate authority.”


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