March 3rd, 2005


Mr. Van Orden Goes to The Supreme Court

A homeless lawyer from Austin, TX is behind one of The 10 Commandments cases now before the Supreme Court.

"Thomas Van Orden admonishes anyone who gets stuck on the fact that he sleeps nightly in a tent in a wooded area; showers and washes his clothes irregularly; hangs out in a law library; and survives on food stamps and the good graces of acquaintances who give him a few bucks from time to time.

What is important, Van Orden says, is "I wrote myself to the Supreme Court."

That he did and with a case that involves an issue that has divided liberals and conservatives as well as lower federal courts for decades: the display of a Ten Commandments monument on government property.

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He chafes at the fact that the Ten Commandments case has gained him fame as "the homeless lawyer," saying: "Where I sleep at night, is this important compared to what I read during the day? What do you think defines me: Where I slept or what I did all day?"

For him, the important story is that of "the little guy" who went up against the powerful state.

"You can still do it with a piece of paper, a pen and a law book," Van Orden said. "But that will be lost in all the hoopla of the Ten Commandments."
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