Ten Commandments monument can stay in Everett, court says

EVERETT — A five-year battle to preserve a granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments outside the Everett Police Department may finally be over.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed a 2005 decision by a federal judge in Seattle, saying that the monument doesn’t violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

The mood at City Hall was joyful on Thursday.

“We have contended that the monument has historic value and the court’s decision shows that is a significant argument,” Mayor Ray Stephanson said Thursday.

The fight has been costly, and now “we’re hoping that the legal battle is over at this point,” city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

The legal battle brought by Everett resident Jesse Card began in 2003 with an attempt to have the 6-foot-tall monument removed.

The city resisted and so far has spent about $190,000 to keep it in front of the old Everett City Hall, which is the current police department, Reardon said.

Card was joined by several private attorneys around the country as well as the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He could not be reached for comment.

In Seattle, lawyer Marc Slonim, who represented Card, said there is no decision whether to ask the Appeals Court to reconsider the ruling or to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision, Slonim said, is similar to the 2005 ruling reached by U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle.

“It was crafted narrowly, I thought, to deal with this case. It doesn’t necessarily address other displays of the Ten Commandments or other church-state issues. As I read it, it’s limited to this particular display or one similar to it.”

The appeal to the 9th Circuit was launched after the Supreme Court said that two courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky had to be removed, but one on the statehouse grounds in Texas could remain because it is associated with many other monuments.

“Basically the (Appeals) Court said this is more like the Texas case than the other one,” Slonim said.

Lasnik and the appeals panel both noted that the Ten Commandments monument in Everett is accompanied by other secular monuments in the area of City Hall and the nearby Snohomish County Courthouse. A war memorial is erected next to the Ten Commandments location.

In Washington, D.C., lawyer Ayesha Kahn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Wednesday’s decision is “another indication of the federal courts departing from maintaining a healthy distance between religion and government. The federal courts have been increasingly hostile to the notion there ought to be that separation.”

She said she’s troubled by the trend.

The city looks at the monument as part of its history, not a religious symbol.

The monument was a gift to Everett in 1959 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. At one time it was located directly on the corner of Wall Street and Wetmore Avenue, but it was moved a few feet in 1988 to make way for the war memorial.

Its current location is obscured from view by shrubs.

Everett’s monument was erected as part of a nationwide drive by the Eagles to “inspire young people and curb juvenile delinquency by providing children with a moral code of conduct to govern their actions,” Lasnik wrote in his earlier decision.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or jhaley@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community

The Everett Districting Commission is proposing four adjustments to the city council districts based on 2020 Census data. (City of Everett)
Proposed map shifts every Everett City Council district

Census data from 2020 prompted several “small tweaks” to council district boundaries.

Cars wait to turn onto Highway 9 from Bickford Avenue on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 stretch closing for roundabout work next week

Drivers will need to use detours as the closure affects the stretch between Second and 30th streets in Snohomish.

Commanding Officer Meghan Bodnar is greeted by her son Grady, who hasn’t seen her in 224 days, at Naval Station Everett on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 200-plus days abroad, Navy destroyers return to Everett homeport

The USS Gridley is one of the few women-led ships, attesting to a growing number of women in the U.S. military.

A concept drawing shows the future multi-use path along U.S. 2 between 179th Avenue Southeast and the North Kelsey Street shopping area. (City of Monroe)
Monroe to start building walking, biking path along U.S. 2

The long-awaited project will give pedestrians and cyclists a safe route to the North Kelsey Street shopping area.

Grand Apartments’ owners are under scrutiny over alleged unpermitted electrical and plumbing work. Photographed in Everett, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Decision delayed on $4,500 in fines for Grand Apartments owner

An attorney for the landlord said he only learned of the hearing 15 minutes before it started Thursday.

Jennifer Bereskin is a housing advocate who was previously homeless in south Snohomish County.  Photographed on August 9, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Where shelter space has been scarce, Lynnwood explores ‘rapid rehousing’

Jennifer Bereskin grew up couch-surfing near Lynnwood. A new program seeks to create an easier path for this generation.

Everett
Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Most Read