The American Civil Liberties Union is pleased and the Satanic Temple is claiming victory after the decision the Oklahoma Supreme Court made Tuesday that a 6-foot statue of the 10 Commandments must be removed from the capitol grounds.
The 7-2 verdict determined that the monument — which had been funded privately by state Republicans — violated Oklahoma's constitutional ban on using public property to benefit a particular religion. The monument is "obviously religious in nature" and "an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths," the court ruled.
Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, which filed the lawsuit, said he was "very pleased" with the ruling.
"I think it's the right decision and affirms the plain meaning of the state Constitution which has always stood for the idea that it isn't the government's business to tell us what are right or wrong choices when it comes to faith," he told the Associated Press.
After the 10 Commandments monument was erected in 2012, a number of religious organizations petitioned to build their own monuments beside it. The Satanic Temple raised $30,000 online to construct an 8-foot tall monument to Baphomet — a religious symbol that resembles the devil — to protest the 10 Commandments monument, which the Temple called a "flagrant breach of the line between Church and State."
The Satanic Temple announced the withdrawal of its request Tuesday.
"The entire point of our effort was to offer a monument that would complement and contrast the 10 Commandments," Lucien Graves, a spokesperson for the Temple, told VICE News. "We won this round."
Graves is now considering moving the Baphomet statue to Arkansas, where the legislature voted to erect a 10 Commandments monument last April.
Oklahoma Republicans were incensed by the court's ruling Tuesday. State Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who defended the 10 Commandments monument in front of the Supreme Court, said the judges "got it wrong" and that the monument does not go against the US Constitution.
Following the ruling, a group of Republican legislators released a statement Tuesday calling for the impeachment of the seven judges who blocked the monument. "These Supreme Court justices are nothing more than politicians in black robes, masquerading as objective jurists. This ruling is the Court engaging in judicial bullying of the people of Oklahoma, pure and simple," GOP Representative Kevin Calvey wrote in a statement signed by 10 other GOP legislators. Henderson at the ACLU told the AP that impeaching judges for controversial rulings represents a "fundamental misunderstanding of how an independent judiciary functions within our system of democratic government."
Pruitt has promised to appeal the court's ruling, noting that Texas has a similar monument on its state grounds, which was deemed constitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2005.
Speaking to VICE News today, Graves acknowledged the monument in Texas' capitol.
"We're aware of Austin, and we view any public grounds that display a 10 Commandments monument fair game," he said.
On Tuesday, Pruitt filed for an immediate rehearing — a move that will temporarily delay the removal of the 10 Commandments — and has promised to push to change the state's constitution if all else fails.