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Make Sen. Rapert reimburse taxpayers for wasteful, unconstitutional 10 Commandment crusade

This petition had 837 supporters


The people of Arkansas should not have to pay for the frivolous, unconstitutional, and divisive actions of Senator Jason Rapert, whose single-minded pursuit to place a 10 Commandments monument on the State Capitol Grounds is almost certainly going to cost the AR taxpayers an indeterminate enormous sum in legal fees and removal costs. Despite being corrected, repeatedly, upon the unconstitutionality of his claim, and his erroneous interpretation of legal precedent, Rapert persists in his attempt to make a permanent public political statement on behalf of his personal religious beliefs, unperturbed that the ultimate cost that removal of his monument, and the litigation leading to that removal, will be deferred to the taxpayers.

We, The Undersigned, are confident that Jason Rapert's 10 Commandments monument violates both the Arkansas State Constitution and the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, and will inevitably be removed from State Capitol Grounds. Sen. Rapert, however, claims to remain confident that objections to his monument have no legal credibility. If Senator Rapert is truly convinced of the strength of his claim, he should be perfectly willing to pledge that he, himself (and not the taxpayers of Arkansas) will pay the costs incurred following a legal ruling against the 10 Commandments monument that would lead to its removal. 

In 2015, Jason Rapert sponsored SB939, The 10 Commandments Monument Act, calling for the placement of a 10 Commandments monument on State Capitol Grounds. The wording of the Bill is identical to Oklahoma House Bill 1330 which allowed for a 10 Commandments monument to be erected on Capitol Grounds, only to be removed later, at tax-payer expense, for violating the State Constitution.

Oklahoma's State Constitution makes explicit that the State shall not "benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion," thereby rendering the 10 Commandments illegal. Sen. Rapert has argued that this specific provision is not in the Arkansas Constitution. While the words are not exact, the exact spirit is present in The Arkansas State Constitution's Declaration of Rights, Article 2, § 24, which states, in part, "[...] no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other." 

According to the Arkansas State Constitution, Sen. Rapert's 10 Commandments monument can not stand on Capitol Grounds

Sen. Rapert relies upon a Supreme Court ruling in 2005, Van Orden v Perry, as his precedent case for establishing the legality of a 10 Commandments monument on State Capitol Grounds. What Sen. Rapert ignores, though it's been pointed out to him often, is that Van Orden established a clear test for a legal 10 Commandments monument (though the decision is still controversial, idiosyncratic, and somewhat ludicrous). Among the factors considered in that case were that the 10 Commandments monument was over 40 years old (a landmark), and the monument is surrounded by several other monuments showing no evidence of exclusion or religious viewpoint preference. Not only is Rapert's monument not over 40 years old, but Arkansas is currently presented with a Satanic monument to consider alongside Rapert's 10 Commandments. Should the Satanic monument be denied, Rapert's 10 Commandments again will not meet the Van Orden test, and his 10 Commandments will almost certainly be removed.

On the same day as the Van Orden decision, the Supreme Court decided against 2 10 Commandments displays in McCreary County v ACLU of Kentucky ruling that the First Amendment prohibits government from favoring one religion over another, or religion over non-belief. This is the precedent decision that will certainly matter in Arkansas, and Van Orden is all but irrelevant.

According to the United States Constitution, Sen. Rapert's 10 Commandments monument can not stand on Capitol Grounds.

Make Senator Rapert pay his frivolous legal fees and monument removal costs. 

 



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