ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Bloomfield violated the constitutional ban on establishment of religion by erecting a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of city hall, Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker said in a 32-page opinion filed Thursday.
Parker ordered the removal of the monument by Sept. 10.
Parker said the case was a close call and could have ended very differently with a slight change of the facts. For instance, the city might have passed constitutional muster had the monument been placed during a ceremony without overt religious overtones, the court said.
Any of a number of might-have-beens could have led to a ruling favoring Bloomfield instead of the citizens who found the monument objectionable. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed suit in federal court on their behalf, and the issue was tried before Parker without a jury in Albuquerque last March.