Last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals entered an order upholding the district court’s decision in the case of Tearpock-Martini v. Shickshinny Borough, which we reported on last summer. The case involved an Establishment Clause challenge by a citizen to a Pennsylvania borough’s decision to install a sign in the right-of-way stating “Bible Baptist Church Welcomes You!” The district court found, on a motion for summary judgment, that the sign did not violate either the three-part Lemon test under the Establishment Clause, and that it did not violate the endorsement of religion test.
The Third Circuit found the plaintiff’s arguments regarding the posting of other signs in the right-of-way unconvincing. The plaintiff made much of the fact that the only other sign in borough right-of-way was a directional sign to a boat launch, and that the borough had not permitted a post office sign in the right-of-way. But the Third Circuit noted that the post office never applied for a sign in the right-of-way, and further pointed out that the borough’s approval and subsequent installation of the church sign did not send a message of endorsement.