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The petition is Bloomfield's last legal move in its battle to keep the Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall

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BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its lawsuit over the Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall.

After about half an hour in a closed executive session tonight, Bloomfield city councilors voted unanimously to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the high court. Through a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court can order a lower court to produce its record of a case for the high court to review.

Filing the petition is the last legal measure the city can take in its years-long battle to keep the monument on city grounds, said City Attorney Ryan Lane.

In 2014, a federal judge ruled that the monument violates the Constitution's establishment clause and could be seen as an endorsement of religion by the city.

On Nov. 9, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver upheld the lower court's ruling, and earlier this month, the appeals court declined a petition that would have asked the full court to review the ruling.

Councilor DeLaws Lindsay said he did not want to elaborate on why he voted in favor of the petitioning the Supreme Court, saying only, "I just think we're representing the people in Bloomfield."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the city in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents who objected to the monument.

Andrew Schultz, an attorney with the Rodey Law Firm in Albuquerque, is representing the ACLU. In a phone interview before today's meeting, he said every federal judge who has reviewed the case has ruled in favor of his client. Schultz said he does not think the Supreme Court will take the case.

"Even if the court were to accept it, we have every confidence we would prevail there, just as we have prevailed in every other court," he said.

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The city of Bloomfield is represented in the lawsuit by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Christian organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz. The nonprofit is not charging the city for its legal services.

Attorneys for the city, as well as city officials, have argued the park where the monument is housed is an "open forum," and the Ten Commandments monument honors the heritage and history of Bloomfield.

Four of the eight justices on the Supreme Court would have to accept the city's petition before the high court would take the case.

Lane said he believes the deadline to submit the city's petition is mid-March. He said the city's attorneys plan to request an extension until April or May.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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