Representing four Arkansas women, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed a lawsuit in federal court asserting that a monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas and asks the court to declare the monument unconstitutional.
The courts have been clear that the First Amendment protects religious freedom and prohibits the government from engaging in heavy-handed religious favoritism.
The plaintiffs in the case are Donna Cave, Judith Lansky, Pat Piazza, and Susan Russell. All four are members of a walking and cycling club in Little Rock whose regular routes include the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol, where they are now confronted with the Ten Commandments monument. Three of the women identify as agnostic and one as atheist.
The lawsuit asserts that the monument on public property at the Arkansas State Capitol is government speech that violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and requests that the Court declare the display unconstitutional.
Citing the First Amendment, which states that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” the lawsuit seeks to have the monument removed from the capitol grounds and the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Display Act declared unconstitutional.
Representing the plaintiffs in the case are Andrew G. Schultz and Melanie B. Stambaugh of the law firm Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb P.A. as well as John L. Burnett and Joshua D. Gillispie.