by Herb Silverman
South Carolina finally did the right thing by removing the Confederate battle flag from capitol grounds. The state had been bitterly divided about whether the flag represents heritage or hate, while I believe it represents heritage and hate. There is nothing in the South Carolina or U.S. Constitutions that prohibits flying the Confederate flag on public property, but the court of public opinion changed after a Confederate flag-promoting racist murdered nine African Americans recently in a Charleston church.
I applaud Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) who called for the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina Statehouse grounds in an attempt to unify citizens who have diverse views on the flag, but Senator Scott and I part company over whether South Carolina should endorse the Ten Commandments. As a member of Charleston County Council in 1997, Scott insisted on posting the Ten Commandments on the wall of council chambers, despite being told that he would lose any legal challenge to the action. In response, Scott argued that the display was needed to remind citizens of moral absolutes. Scott, normally a fiscal conservative, then added, “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.” The court, as expected, declared the display unconstitutional and handed taxpayers a substantial bill for legal costs.
Even worse was Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who in 2001 placed a 5000-pound block of granite inscribed with the Ten Commandments in the Judicial Building in Montgomery. After courts ruled that this violated the constitutional prohibition against religious endorsement, Moore refused to remove the monument so he was removed from office in 2003. However, he’s now back as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and ignoring federal law that allows for gay marriage.
Government officials continue to promote the Ten Commandments while disregarding secular laws they swear to uphold. The most recent example is from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who defied a state Supreme Court ruling that a monument to the Ten Commandments be removed from the grounds of her state capitol.
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