The Norman Transcript

September 15, 2013

State files response in 10 Commandments lawsuit

Associated Press
The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a monument that bears the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds aren’t the proper parties to sue, Oklahoma said in a court filing on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma sued in August on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to have the monument removed, the Tulsa World reported.

Their lawsuit says that because no other monuments are around the Ten Commandments one, the state is endorsing a particular religious message.

The state’s response brief, filed Friday in Oklahoma County District Court, said the defendant, the Capitol Preservation Commission, identified the location on the north side of the building for the beginning phase of a park in which additional monuments would be added.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office is defending the Capitol Preservation Commission in the case. A spokeswoman for Pruitt said the office will provide more details about why it believes the plaintiffs lack standing in later court filings, the newspaper reported.

Brady Henderson, the ACLU of Oklahoma’s legal director, said he is confident the plaintiffs have standing to bring the lawsuit because they are taxpayers and residents of Oklahoma.

The monument was paid for with $10,000 donated by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, and his family, plus $10,000 raised privately.

The Capitol Preservation Commission oversaw its placement on the north side of the Capitol in November, the newspaper reported.

The monument was authorized by a 2009 measure signed by former Gov. Brad Henry. Ritze was the House sponsor of the measure.