Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, involving whether a display of the Ten Commandments on a monument given to the government at the Texas State Capitol in Austin violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
In a suit brought by Thomas Van Orden of Austin, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in November 2003 that the displays were constitutional, on the grounds that the monument conveyed both a religious and secular message. Van Orden appealed, and in October 2004 the high court agreed to hear the case at the same time as it heard McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, a similar case challenging a display of the Ten Commandments at two county courthouses in Kentucky.
The appeal of the 5th Circuit's decision was argued by Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law scholar and the Alston & Bird Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, who represented Van Orden on a pro bono basis. Texas' case was argued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. An amicus curiae was presented on behalf of the respondents (the state of Texas) by then-Solicitor General Paul Clement.
The Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2005, by a vote of 5 to 4, that the display was constitutional. Chief Justice William Rehnquist delivered the plurality opinion of the Court; Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in the judgment but wrote separately. The similar case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky was handed down the same day with the opposite verdict (also with a 5 to 4 decision). The "swing vote" in both cases was Breyer.