A federal judge has ordered the removal of a granite monument of the Ten Commandments from the front of the Dixie County courthouse in Cross City, Fla. Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul ruled the six-ton monument violates the U.S. Constitution and must be taken away by Aug. 14, The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported Tuesday.
Paul's ruling stems from a 2007 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. The group said the monument violated a clause in the First Amendment prohibiting government from promoting religious messages.
The county argued that the monument was owned by a private citizen but Judge Paul said despite "the actual ownership of the monument, the location and permanent nature of the display make it clear to all reasonable observers that Dixie County chooses to be associated with the message being conveyed." Cross City is about an hour's drive west of Gainesville in the sparsely populated Big Bend region of Florida.