MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In November, Alabama voters will decide the fate of an amendment that endorses the display of the ten commandments in public buildings, like schools or churches.
It’s one of four statewide amendments on the ballot.
Proposed Amendment One would “authorize the display of the ten commandments on state property.”
Tom Spencer analyzed the proposed amendment for the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, which is non-partisan.
We asked if the amendment passes, would it change anything?
“It does not,” Spencer replied. “The display of the ten commandments and separation of church and state is a US Constitutional Issue and the US Constitution sits above the Alabama constitution and Alabama law.
Spencer explains federal law, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, already allows the display of the ten commandments within certain criteria. He says this amendment would not change that in Alabama.
“The court has said you can display the Ten Commandments, but it needs to be in context,” Spencer said. “It can be described as a source of our law and civilization but not the sole source. So, other historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution might be accompanied by the ten commandments to show its part of our heritage, but not the sole source.”
While some supporters of this amendment hope it might encourage more constitutional displays of the ten commandments. some opponents worry about the federal lawsuits that could result from unconstitutional displays.
This amendment does specify that no state funds are to be used to defend such suits.
Alabama’s constitution is the longest in the world, with 928 amendments.