Judge: Remove 10 Commandments from City Hall

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A federal judge has ruled a Ten Commandments monument must be removed from a city hall in New Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of two local Wiccans, saying the monument in front of Bloomfield City Hall violated their religious freedom.
U.S. District Court Judge James Parker agreed.

"In view of the circumstances surrounding the context, history, and purpose of the Ten Commandments monument, it is clear that the city of Bloomfield has violated the Establishment Clause because its conduct in authorizing the continued display of the monument on city property has had the primary or principal effect of endorsing religion," he wrote in his Aug. 7 decision.

The judge ordered the display be removed by Sept. 10.    

City attorneys argue the monument was funded by private individuals under a resolution that allows people to erect historical monuments of their choosing.

Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein was shocked by the ruling.

"I am surprised [by the decision] and had never really considered the judge ruling against it because it's a historical document, just like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights," Eckstein told the Daily Times.

"The intent from the beginning was that the lawn was going to be used for historical purposes, and that's what the council voted on," he said.

The city has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

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