What do the ten commandments do? A study of lawyers' semiotics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Against the background of two U.S. Supreme Court cases in 2005 on the question of the public display of the Ten Commandments in the context of the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, the article addresses the way the lawyers, especially the judges, discussed the status of the Ten Commandments as a text and as a symbol. The article relates to the legal arguments concerning such religious texts, and the ways in which decisions in favor of the public display of apparently religious symbols may be distinguished from decisions against their display. While many of the judges did not distinguish between text and symbol, those that did tackled these issues 'semiotically' - without using technical terminology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2008


  • Law
  • Religion
  • Symbol
  • Ten Commandments
  • Text

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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