Skip to comments.And Subjective Justice For All
Posted on 08/19/2006 2:21:09 PM PDT by jennivinson
And Subjective Justice For All
By Jenni Vinson Trejo
August 19, 2006
William S. Mosher lived in Harris County in Houston, Texas. Mosher was a prominent Houston businessman and philanthropist who had been a long-time active and supporter of a local Christian charity, the Star of Hope Mission, that provided food and shelter to indigents.
William Mosher died in 1948. In 1953 the president of the Star of Hope Mission approached the Harris County Commissioners Court and secured permission to erect a memorial to Mosher on the Courthouse property. Morris testified that Star of Hope selected a location in front of the Courthouse because of the permanence and prominence of its location.
The Star of Hope Mission designed and paid for the Mosher monument. It was erected in 1956 in a plaza twenty-one feet from the main entrance to the Courthouse. The monument measures two feet, six inches by three feet, and is four feet, five inches high. Engraved on the front surface of the monument, is the following inscription: STAR OF HOPE MISSION ERECTED IN LOVING MEMORY OF HUSBAND AND FATHER WILLIAM S. MOSHER A.D. 1956.
The top part of the monument is a glass-topped display case that is sloped towards the Courthouse entrance. Star of Hope placed an open Bible in the glass display case to memorialize Moshers Christian faith, although the monument contains no written explanation for the presence of the Bible. The sloping top of the monument makes it look like a pulpit lectern.
The monument stood at the front of the Harris County Courthouse for fifty years without anyone opposing its existence.
In 1995 John Devine ran his campaign for Judge on the promise to return Christianity back in to government. After he was elected he approached Harris County for permission to spruce up the monument. Private donations were collected for the endeavor.
Over the years, since the top of the monument had been open, the Bible had been stolen on several occasions and had been replaced. Judge Divine opted to seal the glass enclosure and add a red neon light to the display case.
Now the monument caught the eye of atheist attorney Kay Staley who sued Harris County arguing that the Bible violated her Constitutional rights. She felt assaulted by the presence of the Bible at the front of a public building. She even argued that the light gave the book a celestial appearance that offended her. She also argued that the County should not pay for the upkeep of the monument with public funds.
Harris County has been paying $93.16 a year for the electricity consumed by the red neon light.
On August 25, 2003, Staley filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. That court found in her favor and ordered the removal of the monument. Kay Staley also sued Harris County for Attorney and Court costs. She represented herself so the court ordered Harris County to pay Kay Staley $40,586 in attorneys fees and expenses. Harris County appealed.
Her case then went before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Two of the three judges presiding over that court sided with Kay Staley and ruled that the monument would have to be removed.
Harris County argued that the Bible represented the faith and believe of William Mosher and that it was meant to honor his life. They argued that in this format the monument was secular in nature.
Kay Staley testified that she was offended by the Bible display in the monument because it advances Christianity and it sends a message to her and to non-Christians that, because they do not share the Christian faith, they are not full members of the Houston political community.
Im sure her actions against Harris County have endeared her to her associates!
The judges wrote in their decision that Because the monument faces the main entrance to the Courthouse, it is readily visible to attorneys, litigants, jurors, witnesses, and other visitors to the Courthouse. However, a passerby would have to walk up to the monument to observe that it contains a Bible and would have to stand in front of it to read the Bible. Neither the plaques nor the historical markers contain any religious message.
Even after stating that, two of the three pressing judges ruled that the monument was religious in nature and thus violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
The Clause reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
The Establishment Clause was intended to prohibit the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion, such as existed in many other countries at the time of the nation's founding. It is far less clear whether the Establishment Clause was also intended to prevent the federal government from supporting Christianity in general since the First Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights also opened its legislative day with prayer and voted to apportion federal dollars to establish Christian missions in the Indian lands.
If we agree with that the first part of the Establishment Clause is the end all that determines that there must be a rigid wall between church and state, then what do we do with the second part of the sentence known as the Free Exercise Clause?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Judges have conveniently rolled over the second half of this clause in their activist attempts at reconstructing the Constitution. Like Roe vs Wade we now hear that even if it bad law, it is set law and therefore should be allowed to continue.
Subjective justice that depends on the decision of each and every judge is no justice at all. Bad law is BAD LAW. How long will we accept this?
Im Jenni Vinson Trejo. And Subjective Justice For All is My Opinion. Thank you for listening.