The American Civil Liberties Union has paid Bannock County more than $900 to cover the court costs run up in the three-year battle over the Ten Commandments monument on the county courthouse lawn.
County Commission Chairman Tom Katsilometes said that while the check for $904 received last week is not a great amount, it does mark the end of the legal dispute that began in 1992 when Idaho State University student Andrew Albanese complained that the 25-year-old monument violated the constitutional prohibition against government endorsing specific religions.
“The judge said the county went above and beyond in this case and that rang a bell with the ACLU,” Katsilometes said. “I think we argued so strongly they’d go out and look for a different fish to fry.”
In response to Albanese’s original complaint, the county erected two additional monuments - one disclaiming any religious beliefs or preferences and the other quoting Thomas Jefferson on religious freedom.
But the ACLU rejected the attempted compromise and went to federal court, accusing the county of violating the constitutional separation of church and state.
Last September, however, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled for the county, saying that it had succeeded in putting the monument into a secular context.