Oklahoma gov to keep Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds, report says

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol will stay there despite the state's Supreme Court ruling it violated the Constitution and must be removed.

The Tulsa World reports Fallin and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider the 7-2 decision that was handed down last week after a challenge from the ACLU of Oklahoma on behalf of three plaintiffs.

Lawmakers have also filed legislation to let people vote on whether to remove a portion of the state Constitution cited in the ruling; Article II, Section 5.

It reads: "No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such."

The state said last week the Ten Commandments are "obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths." The state Constitution bans using public money or property for the benefit of any religious purpose. The monument was privately funded by Republican Rep. Mike Ritze.

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    “Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions,” Fallin said. “However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.”

    Fallin cited a petition to rehear the case and legislation seeking to let people vote on amending the constitution in her argument to let the monument stay on Capitol grounds, according to the newspaper.

    Last week, Pruitt argued the monument was historical in nature and nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Oklahoma justices said the local monument violated the state's constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.

    "Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong," Pruitt said in a statement. "The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law."

    Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director said Fallin is charged with enforcing the law, not predicting the "hypothetical future" of it. He also told the Tulsa World he wouldn't be surprised if Fallin denies a court order.

    “Frankly, I would be astonished if we get to a point where the governor outright defies an order of our state’s highest court,” Kiesel said. “That said, if she does, there is a word for it. It is called contempt.”

    As a result of the court ruling, some lawmakers have called for the impeachment of the justices who voted for it.

    Several other religious orders have tried to erect religious monuments on Capitol grounds since the Ten Commandments was placed in 2012. Among them is a group that wants to erect a 7-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard. A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also have made requests.

    Click for more from the Tulsa World

    The Associated Press contributed to this report