Virginia School Removes Ten Commandments (July 3, 2012)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 13, 2011, against the School Board of Giles County, Va., for unconstitutionally endorsing religion by displaying the Ten Commandments on the wall of a district school. The suit was filed on behalf of a student at Narrows High School and the student’s parent. On July 3, 2012, Judge Michael Urbanski approved a settlement between the parties. The school board agreed that the Ten Commandments will not be posted in any school “unless and until there is precedent in the Fourth Circuit or United States Supreme Court allowing the posting of the text of the Ten Commandments in the public schools.” In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled in Stone v. Graham that Ten Commandments displays in public schools violate the Establishment Clause.

In May of 2012 the District removed the Ten Commandments posting from Narrows High School. In addition to assurances that the Ten Commandments would not be reposted in school, the settlement agreement kept a protective order in effect that shields the identify of the plaintiffs. The court retains jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for eight years following dismissal of the case. See FFRF’s press release here.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys were Rebecca Glenberg and Thomas Okuda Fitzpatrick of the ACLU of Virginia, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott, and Frank Feibelman, ACLU of Virginia cooperating attorney.


Freedom From Religion Foundation