The Ten Commandments monument is pictured in the State Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his decision in 2003 to defy a federal court order to remove the monument from public display in the building.
Photo: AP FILE
Photo: AP FILE

House committee approves bill to place Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds

A House committee unanimously approved a bill Monday that would allow for a monument featuring the Ten Commandments to be erected and placed on the grounds of the state Capitol.

As part of House Bill 702, sponsored by Rep. Greg Morris, the monument would feature the biblical rules on one side and the preambles of the Georgia and U.S. constitutions on the other side. To allay the concerns of some committee members, the bill also would require the monument be funded by private donations instead of taxpayer dollars.

Although there have been objections in other states to similar statues, this monument would simply be a historical monument among other historical monuments, said Morris, R-Vidalia. A copy of the Ten Commandments is already displayed along with other notable documents inside the Capitol.

“I don’t think (there would be) grounds for a lawsuit,” he said. “We’re not establishing a religion and not forcing anybody to be subjected to one.”

Monday’s vote came as a bipartisan bill to erect a monument of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Capitol grounds quickly made its way through the House. Both bills initially called for the monuments to be placed at the front steps of the Capitol to replace the statue of controversial former U.S. Sen. Tom Watson. Watson’s statue was removed last year to allow the steps to be repaired and the area is likely to remain clear.

Morris’ bill now moves to the House Rules Committee for review before being considered by the full House. The bill must be approved by the House by next Monday in order to be considered by the Senate.

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