Ten Commandments in the Schools in Giles County, Doe v. School Board of Giles County

For years, public schools in Giles County posted copies of the Ten Commandments on their walls along with a copy of the Constitution.  After complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the superintendent removed the Ten Commandments.  There was a public outcry, and the School Board voted to put the Ten Commandments back in the schools.  It then voted to take them down again on advice from legal counsel.  Following further public demands, the School Board authorized hanging the Ten Commandments with a variety of documents relating to American history, such as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.  This display has so far only been posted in one high school.  We filed suit on behalf of a high school student, Doe 1, and the student’s parent, Doe 2, alleging that the display violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The defendant moved to dismiss the case.  On November 28, 2011, the court denied the motion to dismiss the case and granted our request to proceed anonymously.  On May 7, 2012, arguments were held on the parties cross-motions for summary judgment.  The judge ordered the parties to mediation. The parties agreed to a settlement in which the schools will not post the Ten Commandments, and the court will retain jurisdiction for eight years to enforce the settlement.  Pursuant to the settlement, the court dismissed the case on July 3, 2012.

Court Documents (click link to view .pdf)
Complaint- U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia

Attorney(s)

Rebecca Glenberg, Tom Fitzpatrick, ACLU of Virginia; Patrick Elliott, Freedom From Religion Foundation

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Frank Feibelman, Richmond

Date filed

September 13, 2011

Court

U.S. District Court, Roanoke

Status

Closed

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