Richland County Common Pleas Court Judge James DeWeese has been trying to hang a religious poster in the Richland County Courthouse for over ten years now. He first started with a poster of the Ten Commandments in 2000. The ACLU filed suit on behalf of a local attorney and won in Federal Court. DeWeese removed the poster, only to replace it with another one a short time later. The second poster also had the Ten Commandments and was even more egregious than the first in that it also stated the Judge’s personal religious beliefs. The ACLU tried to get the judge on contempt of court charges but the court said the poster was not the same one he was ordered to remove.
This meant the ACLU had to start over with a new lawsuit to have the second poster removed. Eventually, DeWeese was ordered to not display the second one two years ago, in October 2009. He appealed that decision and finally, after all Federal Courts that heard this case sided with the ACLU, on Monday, October 3rd, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. This lets the original ruling stand, that DeWeese cannot display the poster.
Notice the order was to “not display” the poster. The order does not say to remove the poster. So, just like a petulant child, DeWeese kept the poster on the wall of the courtroom where he presides. He just covered it with a cloth and attached a sign that says “Censored”. Even after the Supreme Court didn’t think his appeal was worth hearing, DeWeese was quoted saying, “I will probably eventually take the display down.”
What does ‘probably’ mean? Does it mean there is a chance that the poster will remain on the courtroom wall? What does ‘eventually’ mean? Does it mean the poster will stay up long term, as in- until DeWeese is no longer the judge?
This farce has gone on too long. Judge DeWeese has received his answer from his appeals; that his religious display has no place in the people’s courtroom. This is no different from the answer he received after displaying the first poster.
On behalf of the members of Mid Ohio Atheists, I ask Judge DeWeese to remove your unconstitutional poster from off the wall of the people’s courtroom, and don’t replace it with another one. Higher courts have decided against you multiple times. I think you should follow their orders, just as you expect the people who appear before you to follow yours.
Mid Ohio Atheists