The wisdom of King Solomon is legendary, and the first major recorded and published decision in the history of jurisprudence was his decision in the case of the two women contending over a baby. In that decision, King Solomon ordered a sword and said he would divide the baby and give half to each woman. The real mother begged King Solomon to spare the baby, and King Solomon give the baby to her. When King Solomon gave the baby to the mother, the Bible, in I Kings 3:28, says that all of Israel heard about the King’s judgment and had great awe for him, for “they saw that the wisdom of God was within him to do justice.”

Eighteen months ago, a student objected to the posting of the Ten Commandments in the latest Freedom from Religion Foundation- and the American Civil Liberties Union -generated lawsuit against the Giles County, Virginia, School District. In a recently filed court document, the student, identified as Doe 1, stated, “Filing this lawsuit has not been easy, and I would not have done it if I were not genuinely disturbed by the Ten Commandments in the school. I have had to go against school officials who have influence over my life and future.” (Yes, Mr. Doe, that is quite correct. I suspect that might be why Mr. Doe is not using his real name. Incidentally, in this case, Mr. Doe’s heroic parents, the co-plaintiffs in this case, are referred to as Doe 2.)

The Ten Commandments were a part of a display of documents showing the foundations of the political and legal heritage of the United States. A number of the other documents are also displayed that reference God, including the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, but this lawsuit only seeks removal of the Ten Commandments. However, it is interesting to note that textbooks from publishers, such as Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill, will include the Ten Commandments in their list of important historical documents that have shaped our nation’s political and legal foundations.

Federal Judge Michael F. Urbanski, an Obama appointee seated on the federal bench in 2011, is hearing this case. He sits on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke, Virginia. To settle this case, he has proposed a compromise of Solomonic proportions in which the Ten Commandments would be reduced to the Six Commandments. Judge Urbanski has acknowledged that since the first four commandments deal with man’s relationship to God, those can be safely removed, and the final six, dealing with man’s relationship with people and things, can remain. Both the School District, and the student and his parents, have rejected Judge Urbanski’s proposed compromise. Over my lifetime, I have often heard many examples of a possible 11th Commandment. But this case makes me think that “Thou Shalt Not Edit the Above!” might be suitable as well. Next stop in the case is court-ordered mediation. I will be following this case for our readers.