The Eleventh Commandment

THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT….Displays of the Ten Commandments don’t really raise my blood pressure much. I’m as nonreligious as they come, but really, I figure life’s too short to worry too much about stuff like this. Let’s just pretend it’s a symbol of our cultural heritage and move on.

But then Antonin Scalia comes along to throw a pie in my face. Sam Heldman explains:

I see it reported the same way in two different places, and so I trust the reporting: that his take on the big Texas 10 Commandments monument was that it was “a symbol of the fact that government derives its authority from God,” and that this is a good thing (or at least a constitutionally-acceptable thing). Here I was thinking that people didn’t necessarily agree on whether the existence of God is a “fact,” and that the Government wasn’t supposed to take sides in that debate.

But there is, at least, this: that having staked out that position, Justice Scalia can’t very well sign on to an opinion saying that the posting of the Commandments or the construction of a Commandments monument is merely some sort of secular historical blah blah blah.

I may be relaxed about this stuff, but enough’s enough. If an explicit statement that the authority of the United States government is derived from God isn’t a violation of the establishment clause, then what is? Does the First Amendment have any meaning left at all?