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VAN ORDEN v. PERRY, in his official capacity as GOVERNOR OF TEXAS and CHAIRMAN, STATE PRESERVATION BOARD, et al., 545 U.S. ---

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VAN ORDEN v. PERRY, in his official capacity as GOVERNOR OF TEXAS and CHAIRMAN, STATE PRESERVATION BOARD, et al.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-1500.Argued March 2, 2005--Decided June 27, 2005

Among the 21 historical markers and 17 monuments surrounding the Texas State Capitol is a 6-foot-high monolith inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The legislative record illustrates that, after accepting the monument from the Fraternal Order of Eagles--a national social, civic, and patriotic organization--the State selected a site for it based on the recommendation of the state organization that maintains the capitol grounds. Petitioner, an Austin resident who encounters the monument during his frequent visits to those grounds, brought this 42 U. S. C. §1983 suit seeking a declaration that the monument's placement violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and an injunction requiring its removal. Holding that the monument did not contravene the Clause, the District Court found that the State had a valid secular purpose in recognizing and commending the Eagles for their efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency, and that a reasonable observer, mindful of history, purpose, and context, would not conclude that this passive monument conveyed the message that the State endorsed religion. The Fifth Circuit affirmed.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.


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