Washington, D.C.-- Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is asking the chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the ranking member, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., of the Committee on the Judiciary, to preserve legislation clarifying that states have the authority to allow posting of the Ten Commandments in state buildings, if they so choose.
The legislation took the form of an amendment introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala. It was included in the House version of the Juvenile Justice legislation, which passed 287-139 in the House on June 17, H.R. 1501. The Ten Commandments amendment ensures that states have the authority to enact laws allowing for the public display of the Ten Commandments on property owned or administered by the states or their political subdivisions, which includes schools. It does not mandate that states publicly display the Ten Commandments. The Senate passed the Juvenile Justice bill, S. 254, 73-25 on May 20. It did not contain a companion to the Aderholt amendment. Enzi's letter was addressed to the leaders of a joint Senate-House conference committee deciding what form of the final bill will be voted on by both chambers.
"The First Amendment guarantees that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof;' We need to remember the last part of that statement," Enzi said. "There is nothing wrong with posting a document that says it is wrong to kill people, to steal from other people and that you should respect your parents.
"This won't solve all of our problems. I don't presume that it will, but reinforcement that it is not okay to kill people or lie or steal is a good thing. If this is so objectionable, maybe our society is in more trouble than we think. If a state wants to allow a teacher to display the Ten Commandments on her desk, it should be able to do so."
Enzi's letter to Hatch and Leahy urges the support of the Ten Commandments amendment in the final Senate-House conference agreement. Sens. Nickles, R-Okla.; Allard, R-Colo.; Helms, R-N.C.; Inhofe, R-Okla; Hutchinson, R- Ark.; Coverdell, R-Ga.; Craig, R-Idaho; and Brownback, R-Kan., also signed the letter.