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As attorney Alfred W. Putnam of Philadelphia’s Drinker Biddle & Reath sees it, the American Civil Liberties Union and some of its clients have something in common with the Taliban. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week, Putnam is urging the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a March 2002 decision by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell that said Chester County, Pa., must remove a bronze plaque of the Ten Commandments that has hung on the eastern wall of its courthouse for more than 80 years. Arguing on behalf of the Chester County Historic Preservation Network, Putnam compares the forced removal of the plaque to the Taliban’s decision to destroy ancient Buddha statues. Putnam argues that the ACLU and its clients were asking for too much — and that Dalzell went too far when he granted their request — because the law does not require governments to destroy historic monuments in order to avoid violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. “It is possible to preserve and respect the works of one’s ancestors without ‘endorsing’ them. We do it every day. It is true that the Taliban does not understand this. But we are not the Taliban. And our Constitution does not require that we behave as if we were,” Putnam wrote. Putnam opened the brief by urging the appellate judges to focus on three questions. For each, he suggested an answer:

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