Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a lower-court decision banning the Ten Commandments from public property. This time around, the case involved a representation of the commandments that was to be placed on the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse.
In March 2000, Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon approved a monument donated by the Indiana Limestone Institute for display on the Statehouse lawn. It featured the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights and the preamble to the 1851 Indiana Constitution. The monument was intended to replace a previous Ten Commandments monument placed on the lawn in 1958 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles -- following a promotional campaign for Cecille B. deMille's 1956 movie, "The Ten Commandments." That earlier monument had been vandalized.
But in May 2000, a group of challengers -- including the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and Stephen Schroeder, the man convicted of vandalizing the first monument -- sued in federal court. They argued that the proposed placement of the monument violated the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment.
When a federal judge and a federal appeals judge agreed, Indiana asked the Supreme Court for review, saying the First Amendment should permit "the government to display the Ten Commandments to memorialize the role the commandments have played in the development of the rule of law and of the American legal system."
In a one-line order Monday, the justices let stand the lower-court injunction that blocked the placement of the monument.
Last year, the Supreme Court refused to review another case out of Indiana involving a Ten Commandments monument banned from the lawn of a municipal building. But that rejection in Elkhart vs. Books brought a dissent from Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was joined by fellow conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Rehnquist argued unsuccessfully that the depiction of the commandments in a public place simply recognizes that they "have made a substantial contribution to our secular legal codes."
-- What do you think?
More human remains were found Monday as workers cut trees and cleared land near a northwest Georgia crematorium where bodies were stored and dumped without being burned.
"We discovered another area some 10 feet from the site where we removed close to 20 bodies just a couple of days ago," Walker County Emergency Services Director David Ashburn said. "In our continuing logging, we have found other areas of ground that are suspect. We're at a point now where it's just a matter of time as to when we get to each one of these locations."
Investigators, meanwhile, began accepting medical records and blood samples from family members in what they said would be a time-consuming effort to identify some of the 319 sets of human remains found so far at the Tri-State Crematory in Noble, a small community about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta. Of those remains, 69 have been identified and at least 39 have been returned to funeral homes or family members, Ashburn said.
Almost 500 state employees, including 50 pathologists, are working at the scene. The Walker County Civic Center has been converted into a forensic analysis facility. A joint operations center for government agencies was set to open on Tuesday.
Georgia Medical Examiner Dr. Kris Sperry said it'll take several months to identify some of the remains using mitochondrial DNA testing and blood tests of family members of the deceased.
"The earliest time frame is toward the late summer and nothing should be expected for us to have in hand before that time," he said.
The operator of the crematory, 28-year-old Ray Brent Marsh, has been charged with 16 counts of theft by deception and is being held in the Walker County Jail. He had told investigators that the crematorium hadn't worked properly.
-- What do you think should happen with March, and why?
CHUCK JONES' LEGACY
"Bugs Bunny is who we want to be," he liked to say. "Daffy Duck is who we are."
It was a remark typical of the wry, self-deprecating, misleadingly low-key genius of Chuck Jones who was arguably the cartoonist of the century, and even of all time.
Charles M. Jones -- who died Friday at the ripe age of 89 -- very well may go down alongside his own idol, Mark Twain, as the greatest of all American humorists. He created Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. He transformed Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck into the cultural icons they have been for more than half a century.
Twain through the second half of the 19th century revolutionized American literature. Ultimately, he transformed the sensibility and awareness of the entire world.
Jones, in his own artistic heyday through the middle third of the 20th century, did exactly that through the medium of film. And he did so by taking the most overlooked, under-rated and despised cinematic form, the five- to six-minute cartoon short, and crafting literally hundreds of masterpieces and an entire population of mythic characters that have captivated children and enchanted adults alike now for seven decades.
Think of what Jones did with Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, the Tasmanian Devil, Pepe Le Pew the romantic French skunk among many, many others. Their appeal is universal and continues unabated in its power and pleasure through every generation. Like Shakespeare, like the great masters of late 18th and 19th century German classical music, the jazz art of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in the 1920s and the 60s rock of the Beatles, the cartoons of Chuck Jones have transcended time and place to become enduring, deeply loved popular cultural treasures of all humanity.
-- What are your favorite Chuck Jones' cartoons, and why?
(Thanks to Martin Sieff, UPI Senior News Analyst)