Legislation Heads To Governor That Could Effectively Block Satanic Monument

Feb 22, 2017
Originally published on February 21, 2017 7:43 pm

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

A statue to Baphomet has been under consideration by the commission, which was proposed by the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple in response to a Ten Commandments monument approved in 2015.

Speaking in support of the bill, Sen. Jason Raper argued the legislation would avoid wasting money to design monuments and the time of commissioners.

"What we're looking at is a change in the chronology, meaning that before anybody spends that money, before anybody does all that preparation, it would be nice to know whether the (Arkansas General) Assembly is actually going to approve of that to go forward," Rapert said. "It also, frankly for the Capitol Grounds Commission, keeps them from dealing with requests that frankly are frivolous and probably are never going to come to anything in the long run."

After only a few minutes of discussion, with no one speaking against the bill, it was approved by the Senate 27-5. The measure had been approved in the House Feb. 6 by a vote of 91-0.

An attorney for the temple has argued the measure can't be applied retroactively. In a letter to the Secretary of State's office earlier this month, attorney Stuart de Haan promised that if passed, the group would file a lawsuit against the state.

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