A federal lawsuit over Ten Commandments displays in the Jackson County Courthouse could be resolved for about $6,000 if a judge accepts a proposed settlement filed Tuesday by the fiscal court and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a U.S. District Court filing, the fiscal court, the judge-executive, resident Eugene Phillips and the ACLU agreed to a judgment of $5,912 in attorney fees and court costs, and a permanent injunction against similar displays.
In order to avoid a costly court battle, Judge-Executive William O. Smith had nine framed displays of the commandments removed last week from hallways, entrances and various offices in the courthouse. The displays had been there since 1999, until Phillips, who moved to McKee two years ago, sued the county for violation of the First Amendment's rule against government-sponsored religion.
A similar case in Pulaski and McCreary counties, a 10-year fight that is still under appeal, has cost the counties more than $400,000 in fees and court costs.