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
Late last month, a federal court in Texas denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the State of Texas in a case challenging the state’s policy for allowing privately-sponsored displays in the state capitol building.
The Texas State Preservation Board allows private individuals and groups to display exhibits “for a public purpose” in the public areas of the Texas state capitol building, subject to the board’s approval. A private group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for separation of church and state, wished to display an exhibit in December 2015 depicting life-size figures celebrating the birth of the Bill of Rights, along with …
Continue Reading Exhibits in Texas State Capitol Do Not Constitute Government Speech, Viewpoint Discrimination Claim Moves Forward
Earlier this month, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Bloomfield, New Mexico’s installation of a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn in front of city hall violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
In 2007, upon request of one of its members, the Bloomfield city council approved the placement of the privately-donated monument. At the time, the city lacked a policy regarding placement of permanent monuments, but it enacted one three months later. The city’s policy required a statement to be placed on privately-donated stating that the speech was not that of the city but rather of the donor, and also required that such monuments relate to the city’s history and heritage. After several years of fundraising and another city council approval, the 3,400 pound Ten Commandments monument was placed on the city hall lawn in 2011, and the city held a ceremony—replete with statements by elected officials and religious leaders—to dedicate the monument. Over the course of the next two years, the city amended the monument policy, and allowed the installation of other monuments on the lawn, including monuments containing the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the Bill of Rights, but did not advertise its policy of allowing donated monuments.
The federal district court held …
Continue Reading Installation of Ten Commandments On City Hall Lawn is Government Speech, Violates First Amendment
The plaintiff in Williamson v. City of Foley was a Baptist pastor whose congregation periodically engaged in evangelistic street ministry by preaching and witnessing orally and with signs on public sidewalks at the intersection of two major highways. …
Continue Reading Evidence of Less-Restrictive Alternatives Do Not (Necessarily) Violate the Narrow Tailoring Requirement