The McCreary County Record

Local News

June 14, 2011

First 10 Commandments donation arrives

County officials plan to activate account this week

WHITLEY CITY —  For months county officials have gotten one bit of bad news after the other concerning the Ten Commandments case.

    Earlier this year, the federal Supreme Court declined to reconsider the case and just last month U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman issued an order which brought the amount which McCreary and Pulaski fiscal courts owes to the ACLU of Kentucky to $456,881.

    The judgment is not covered under the counties’ insurance policies and neither government has the immediate cash to cover their half.

    But on Friday, McCreary County received its first bit of good news.

    Judge-Executive Doug Stephens reported that his office had received a $100 check from a Huntsville couple for the cause.

    “We’re extremely grateful for this start,” Judge Stephens said. “We hope to appeal to the good people who had supported the effort to post the display.”

    Stephens’ office is working to establish a nonprofit account with a local bank to handle incoming donations. Deputy Judge-Executive Andrew Powell told The Record that the account should be active by Friday:

McCreary County Ten Commandments Fund

c/o Bank of McCreary County

P.O. Box 160

Whitley City, KY 42653

    Any donation sent to the Office of McCreary County Judge-Executive should be clearly marked for the Ten Commandments case.

    At press time, no timetable has been established by which the judgment must be paid.

    Both McCreary and Pulaski fiscal courts posted the Ten Commandments in their courthouses in the 1999 and were sued that fall by the ACLU on behalf of residents who complained that the counties violated the First Amendment.

    After losing their case in two lower courts, the counties lost their battle at the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2005. While the display (which includes secular documents) has been upheld in other counties, McCreary and Pulaski officials were found in a 5-4 decision to be acting with religious intent in first posting the Commandments alone. On the advice of their attorneys with Liberty Counsel, the counties continued to appeal in hopes that the new, more conservative high court would reverse itself. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the case again in February.

    Federal law allows the winning parties in civil rights cases to recover attorney and related fees — meaning that the ACLU may be paid its expenses but no monies were awarded to the citizen plaintiffs.

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