Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma Capitol

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol.

The lawsuit filed by a New Jersey-based nonprofit group, American Atheists Inc., and two of its members in January 2014 alleged the monument violated the First Amendment's prohibition of government sanctioning of a specific religion, as well as other constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled that the group lacked legal standing to file the lawsuit.

An attorney for the group, Eric O. Husby of Tampa, Florida, said he disagrees with the ruling but that no decision has been made to appeal.

Cauthron's decision was hailed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office defended the monument.

"The historical relevance of the Ten Commandments and the role it played in the founding of our nation cannot be disputed," Pruitt said in a statement.

It's the second time that Pruitt's office has successfully defended the monument against constitutional challenges. In September, Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince ruled that the monument does not violate the state constitution and can remain. The ruling has been appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The original 6-foot-tall granite monument was erected in 2012 after a bill authorizing it was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. That monument was destroyed in October when a car drove across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A replica was installed in January.

Since the monument's placement on the Capitol grounds, other groups have asked to erect their own monuments, including a satanic group, a Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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