September 07, 2016 08:53 AM
SOMERSWORTH, N.H. (AP) — Officials in the New Hampshire city of Somersworth have voted to reinstall the municipality's controversial Ten Commandments monument to its original location next to City Hall.
Foster's Daily Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/2cAe2XK ) the City Council approved the measure Tuesday.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles gifted the granite Ten Commandments tablet to the city in 1958. It was toppled by an unidentified vandal in August following objections to its religious implications.
Mayor Dana Hilliard said he's been advised that the monument is compliant with the First Amendment and meets the constraints of church and state separation.
"The City Manager and I have worked out a plan which would further neutralize the monument thus ensuring that it would meet all future tests," Hilliard said. "The plan includes . a historical sign outlining the history, role and purpose of the monument . and two flag poles."
Jennifer Soldati, a council member who voted against the measure, suggested that adding a marker and flags would actually increase the sense of endorsement.
"Democracy is not about majority rule, it is the rights of the minority being protected against the tyranny of the majority," Soldati said. "I understand the sentimentality, I get it. But I am a staunch believer in our constitution and I do believe that we are in violation."
Councilor Nancie Cameron voted to restore the monument, but said a similar gift would likely be refused today.
Information from: Foster's Daily Democrat, http://www.fosters.com
Updated: September 07, 2016 08:53 AM
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