May 2017 Church & State - May 2017

Ten Commandments Monument Removed From Pittsburgh-Area Public High School

  AU admin

A public school district in suburban Pittsburgh removed a Ten Commandments monument that was the subject of a nearly five-year court battle.

New Kensington-Arnold School District in February reached a settlement to relocate the large stone monolith that had been donated to the school in the 1950s. In late March, for the first time in 60 years, the Ten Commandments no longer loomed over students walking past the front of Valley Junior-Senior High School.

Americans United, joined by several allied organizations, had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case in 2015 in support of Marie Schaub, the mom who challenged the school district’s monument on behalf of her minor daughter, a student in the district.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh had ruled that Schaub and her daughter had not been sufficiently harmed by the monument to have standing to sue. Schaub appealed, and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor and restored the lawsuit last year.

At that point, the school district began to discuss the possibility of settling the case out of court by moving the monument. The district may have been motivated to act because a  nearly identical Ten Commandments monument at another western Pennsylvania public school had been deemed unconstitutional and was removed. Both cases were brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Valley News Dispatch reported that the New Kensington-Arnold monument will be moved to a nearby private Catholic school, which has launched an online fund­raising campaign to raise $75,000 to display the monolith.

The settlement also included the school district’s insurance company paying $163,000 in legal fees; the district had to cover the cost of its $20,000 insurance deductible, the newspaper reported.

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