Courier-Journal: Appeals Court Rules KY Can Be Dependent On “Almight God”

Court of Appeals: Kentucky can credit ‘Almighty God’ for homeland security

From the Louisville Courier-Journal

Kentucky can continue giving official credit for its homeland security to Almighty God, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday in a decision overturning a lower-court ruling.

A three-judge panel on the court, in a split decision, rejected the 2009 ruling of Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, who declared legislation requiring credit to the Almighty to have “created an official government position on God,” in violation of the Kentucky and U.S constitutions’ bans on state-sponsored religion.

A group of 10 Kentucky residents filed suit to challenge the legislation in 2008.

“We have found no Kentucky case that … prohibits a statutory reference to God of the sort embodied in the statutes in question,” said the court ruling, written by Judge Laurance B. VanMeter and joined by Judge Thomas Wine.

“That rationale would place this section at odds with the (Kentucky) Constitution’s Preamble,” which itself thanks “Almighty God” for the welfare of the commonwealth.

At issue are two related laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A 2002 “legislative finding” says the “safety and security of the commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

And a 2006 act creating the state’s Office of Homeland Security requires its executive director to publicize this “dependence on Almighty God” in agency training and educational materials and through a plaque at the entrance to its emergency operations center.

In a 2009 ruling, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate declared the law to have “created an official government position on God,” in violation of the Kentucky and U.S constitutions.

Senior Judge Ann O’Malley Shake dissented from her Court of Appeals panel colleagues, saying that Wingate was correct in seeing the legislation as having an “impermissible effect of endorsing religion because it was enacted for a predominantly religious purpose and conveyed a message of mandatory religious belief.”



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