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Biblical Marker On Trial Ten Commandments Will Get Their Day In Federal Court

Fri., April 28, 1995

A federal judge in Boise recommends against granting summary judgment to three men who filed a federal lawsuit objecting to the Ten Commandments monument on the Bannock County Courthouse lawn.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Larry Boyle Wednesday afternoon signed a 28-page report recommending denial of both sides’ efforts to win the case without a trial. The recommendation goes to U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who will make the final decision, but the recommendations usually are accepted.

Boyle said proceedings claiming violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution are “delicate and fact-sensitive” and thus granting summary judgment is inappropriate before those facts are determined.

He also recommended denial of the county’s effort to dismiss the complaint.

Bannock County Commissioner J.O. Cotant said he wasn’t surprised by the preliminary report.

He said commissioners are confident they’ll win in court and they won’t back off despite a recent bomb threat to the monument.

“Right’s right, and wrong’s wrong. We’re not going to be intimidated,” Cotant said. “We’re going for the gold.”

An apparent bomb was placed on the monument earlier this month, and an anonymous caller warned officials it was there. A squad of experts from Mountain Home Air Force Base removed and disabled the device.

Police have been investigating, but officials haven’t said whether it was a real bomb or just a device rigged to look like one.

Three men, Andrew J. Albanese, Larry Fullmer and Stephen W. Wells, filed a civil rights lawsuit in 1993, asking removal of the Ten Commandments monument. They alleged it violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that church and state be kept separate.

Albanese is described in court records as an agnostic who used to “frequently pass in front of the Bannock County Courthouse” but now “avoids the site.” He did not join the motion seeking summary judgment.

Fullmer is a “non-Christian” who drives by the courthouse daily and the monument “disturbs me greatly and causes me significant emotional distress,” court records said.

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