Lawmakers look to expand where Commandments could hang

ATLANTA — The Ten Commandments, along with other historical documents, would be allowed to be posted in any public statewide under a measure the state House approved this week.

The House on Tuesday voted 161-0 in favor of House Bill 766. The measure would remove restrictions as to where so-called Foundations of American Law and Government displays could be posted.

Under previous law, such displays were limited to “public courthouses and judicial facilities.” The revised law, if approved by the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, would allow such displays in any “public buildings.”

A controversy over hanging the Ten Commandments in Georgia government buildings at one point centered on Barrow County. There, in September 2003, the ACLU sued the county on behalf of an anonymous resident, identified only as John Doe in court records.

In July 2005, Barrow County settled the case, agreed to remove its display and paid the anonymous resident $150,001 in legal fees and damages, according to previous news accounts in the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper.

On the heels of Barrow County lawsuit, state lawmakers in 2006 approved Foundations of American Law and Government displays.

The displays consist of nine historic documents — including the Ten Commandments and the preamble of the Georgia Constitution. But, the documents must meet a number of mandates, including a requirement that the documents appear on paper measuring at least 11 inches by 14 inches, and they must be, placed in identical frames.

In May 2007, the south Georgia city of Odum in Wayne County became the first Georgia community to hang a display.

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