Alabama Senate approves bill that would allow public display of Ten Commandments

(Wikimedia Commons/Office of the Attorney General of Texas)A tablet displaying the Ten Commandments, located on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol.

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public grounds in Alabama has been approved by the Senate on Thursday.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), would allow the display of the Ten Commandments when it is placed next to other historical or educational materials.

"The proposed amendment would propose a constitutional amendment which would provide that property belonging to the state may be used to display the Ten Commandments and that the right to display the Ten Commandments on property owned or administrated by a public school or public body is not restrained or abridged," the bill stated.

Dial had introduced the bill in the past, but it failed due to concerns about the costs of defending the legislation in court. The senator indicated in his bill that the state will not be allowed to use public funds to defend the constitutionality of the amendment. He said he believes that there will be lawyers who will volunteer to defend the bill in court.

The proposal, which was passed by the Alabama Senate by a vote of 23–7, will now go to the Alabama House of Representatives for a vote. The measure will be placed on the ballot for voters if is approved by at least 63 of 105 House members.

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, providing for certain religious rights and liberties; authorizing the display of the Ten Commandments on state property and property owned or administrated by a public school or public body; and prohibiting the expenditure of public funds in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment," the ballot initiative will read, according to Christian News Network.

The Ten Commandments became controversial in Alabama in 2003, when then-Chief Justice Roy Moore installed a monument displaying the Decalogue in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Moore was suspended from the bench when he refused a federal order to remove the monument, but he was elected as chief justice again in 2012. He resigned as chief justice last month after the Court of the Judiciary suspended him for allegedly instructing probate judges to disobey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding same-sex marriage.

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