CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — A move to place the motto “In God We Trust” on the Anderson County Courthouse has won final approval.
The Oak Ridger reported 14 of the 16 Anderson County Commission members voted Monday to place the national motto over the doors of the courthouse in Clinton. Two commissioners abstained.
Approval came at a third meeting at which the issue was discussed.
Commissioner Jerry Creasy tried to amend the motion to include well-known slogans be placed above three courthouse entrances and “In God We Trust” be placed about the fourth one, but it died for lack of a second.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported a local businessman and a group of ministers had advanced the idea.
Commissioners initially voted 12-4 in February to put up the slogan
Anderson County officials Wednesday were continuing to ponder the consequences of an emotional 12-4 vote Tuesday night to put the country’s motto, ‘In God We Trust,” on the exterior of the courthouse, according to the News Sentinel.
The executive director of the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, criticized the move.
“People of all faiths, as well as non-believers, should feel welcome in their government buildings,” ACLU official Hedy Weinberg said in a statement.
“The County Commission should focus on doing real work that represents the interests of all residents, not sowing the seeds of religious divisiveness in the community by challenging the fundamental founding principle that government must remain neutral when it comes to matters of faith,” Weinberg wrote.
Commissioners, after hearing impassioned arguments from a standing-room-only audience, voted to proceed with the proposal but asked the law director and the panel’s operations committee to look into possible legal roadblocks and liability issues.
Robin Biloski, committee chair, was one of four Oak Ridge commissioners that voted against the measure. She said the committee is scheduled to meet March 11. “This was such a quick vote,” she said of Tuesday’s decision. “Will we have people to come (to the operations committee) to voice their opinion on the direction we’re going?”
Biloski said the full commission “didn’t follow the rules,” which normally require such proposals to go before committee before advancing to the full 16-member panel. “We’re jumping into something not knowing the ramifications, the liability,” she said.
The Ten Commandments, which were taken off display at the Monroe County Courthouse seven years ago, are coming back, reports WBIR-TV. The removal came after the Supreme Court ruled in a McCreary County, Kentucky case that such acts endorsed religion. Monroe County Mayor Tim Yates has decided to put the documents back on display due to a new state law Governor Bill Haslam signed in April. The legislation made it legal for the 10 Commandments to be placed in public so long as they were presented in a historical context, alongside other historical documents.
Yates said Monroe County will put the Ten Commandments next to other documents like the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.
“What we’re doing is displaying these as historical documents,” Yates said.
He said the commandments will be placed on the wall next to his office on the courthouse’s first floor. He said they will likely unveil all of the documents by the end of next week.
While some Monroe County residents said they were excited to hear the Ten Commandments would return, not everyone was happy. The Wisconsin-based group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF], said the new state law violates the constitution and that the Ten Commandments are not a historical document.
State Rep. Julia Hurley (R-Lenoir City) was kicked out of the Roane County Courthouse for taking her dog in with he, reports WATE-TV.
Hurley claims the 11-pound Chinese crested is a service animal, which is permitted in public places according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She had the dog on a leash when it was spotted by County Executive Ron Woody last week.
Hurley says she simply didn’t know dogs weren’t allowed in the courthouse. She says she’s upset because of the way she was treated and the way the situation was handled, not because she and her service dog were told to leave.
“I wasn’t being attacked for my dog being a service dog. I was attacked for having a dog in the courthouse. I was not requested respectfully to remove the dog. I was not spoken to at all. I was snapped at and yelled at across the courthouse,” Rep. Hurley said.
That’s not how Woody says things unfolded. “As I went out of my office, I saw a little dog walking down the hall, and of course it was on a leash so I had asked security, you know we need to get the dogs out of the courthouse. That was basically the extent of it.”
Hurley says the dog was already registered as a service dog when she adopted it, and it serves as a companion.
“That’s why I got her was to be my companion. I mean if I wanted to take her, if I put on her little service sweater and took her to the hospital for cancer patients, then she would be a service dog, but she’s my dog. She’s my companion,” Rep. Hurley explained.
She says the confrontation was to make a point with county employees. “If he has a problem with his employees, he needs to speak with his employees and not use me as an example to get to them.” UPDATEfrom Bob Fowler: By Tuesday, the freshman lawmaker had declared the issue off-limits. “I don’t want to talk about that anymore,” Hurley said. “I don’t think this is appropriate news. What’s going on in Nashville is newsworthy.”
Roane County Commissioner Randy Ellis said he witnessed last week’s incident and described Woody’s behavior as “quiet and respectful” when he asked courthouse security to remove the dog.
Ellis said Woody didn’t address Hurley at the time and disputed Hurley’s claim that her pet is a service dog, saying it doesn’t meet that definition under Americans with Disabilities Guidelines.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A jury convicted a Georgia man Tuesday of a federal firearms charge in what authorities said was a plot to take over a Tennessee courthouse and force President Barack Obama out of office.
Darren Wesley Huff, 41, was found guilty of carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder. He was acquitted of using a firearm in relation to another felony. He faces up to five years in prison.
“The verdict on count one reflects exactly what the law is supposed to do, which is prevent harm before shots get fired, people hurt, or property damaged,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie told reporters after the verdict.
Scott Green, Huff’s attorney, did not comment after the verdict. When he spoke The Associated Press on Monday before the verdict, Green quoted former New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay: “Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.”
Huff was stopped by Tennessee officers in April 2010 and told them he was bringing guns into the state from Dallas, Ga., to support efforts to arrest Monroe County officials who refused to indict Obama.
Huff was a part of a Georgia militia and the ‘birther’ movement that disputes Obama’s U.S. citizenship.
Officers testified Huff was carrying a loaded Colt .45 in a holster on his hip plus an assault rifle and 200 or 300 rounds of ammunition in a tool box in his truck. They said he also had a document he claimed was a “citizens’ arrest warrant” for officials, saying they were domestic enemies and had been charged with treason.
Huff testified that he wanted to help Walter Fitzpatrick, a military retiree living in Madisonville, who was arrested after he tried to put the local grand jury foreman under citizen’s arrest. Fitzpatrick, who became hostile to the government two decades ago when he faced a court-martial, is in jail over that incident.
Huff choked back tears as he told the jury Friday that he was humiliated because “my government has called me a potential domestic terrorist.”
He denied he threatened to take over the courthouse in Monroe County, which is about halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga.
“I have never made a statement about taking over the courthouse, the city, the state, nothing,” Huff said.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan ordered Huff into custody following the jury’s conviction. Huff, wearing a light green shirt and khakis, was handcuffed by officers in the courtroom. A sentencing hearing was scheduled in February.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former Georgia militia member testified Friday at his trial in a bizarre attempted courthouse takeover case, fighting back tears and saying “my government has called me a potential domestic terrorist.”
Prosecutors contend Darren Wesley Huff of Dallas, Ga., drove to East Tennessee with a handgun and an AK-47 on April 20, 2010, after threatening to use force and to sacrifice his life if necessary to take over the city of Madisonville and the Monroe County Courthouse.
Huff is charged with carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder. He is also charged with using a firearm in relation to another felony, which on conviction carries a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence.
After getting the case late Friday, jurors decided to begin deliberating Monday.
By Bill Poovey,Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jurors at the federal weapons trial of a Georgia militia supporter charged with traveling into Tennessee with an AK-47 and handgun to make citizens’ arrests of judges and law officers found out quickly Tuesday from his attorney what to expect: “Downright kooky.”
Court records show Darren Wesley Huff, 41, of Dallas, Ga., traveled in April 2010 to the Monroe County Courthouse for what he said was a plan to take it over, and if necessary use force to do so, in support of serving a citizens’ arrest warrant that also named President Barack Obama.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie said Huff and others were involved in a takeover plan that stemmed from their support of a local activist’s earlier unsuccessful attempt to arrest the Monroe County grand jury foreman.
Gary Pettway testified Tuesday as the first witness at the trial that as grand jury foreman at the time in the rural county between Knoxville and Chattanooga he refused a demand to pursue charges Obama related to questions about his American citizenship.
“Every one of you all may think he (Huff) and his ilk are kooky as all get out” Huff’s attorney, Scott Green, said in an opening statement. Green said Huff and the others “love their country.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A jury is to be picked in Knoxville for the federal trial of a Georgia militia supporter charged with traveling with weapons to support citizens’ arrests of judges and other officials at a Tennessee courthouse.
Records show 41-year-old Darren Wesley Huff of Dallas, Ga., traveled in April 2010 to the Monroe County Courthouse with a handgun, an AK-47 and ammunition after telling FBI agents about the plan.
Huff was supporting a Monroe County activist who in a warrant had declared the officials to be “domestic enemies.”
Huff and his attorney, Scott Green of Knoxville, have declined comment ahead of Tuesday’s trial.
Huff is charged with carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder and using a firearm in relation to another felony.