Magazine article Church & State

AU Files Legal Briefs in Two Cases Dealing with Religious Symbols

Magazine article Church & State

AU Files Legal Briefs in Two Cases Dealing with Religious Symbols

Article excerpt

Americans United recently filed two legal briefs in cases challenging the display of religious symbols on government property.

In a Dec. 17 brief, Americans United told the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Pennsylvania woman and her minor child should be permitted to sue the New Kensington-Arnold School District over a Ten Commandments display at a local high school.

Marie Schaub filed the suit in 2012 with the assistance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. U.S. District Court Judge Terrence F. McVerry dismissed the lawsuit in July because her child had changed schools to avoid seeing the religious display. Americans United's brief argues that it is unreasonable for the court to expect a child to suffer daily exposure to a violation of her constitutional rights and asserts that Schaub's preexisting exposure to the display should grant her the legal right to sue.

"The district court's holdings are plainly wrong. They are contrary to controlling Supreme Court precedent and the prior decisions of this Court," the brief noted.

Americans United filed the brief in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network, the Sikh Coalition and the Union for Reform Judaism. (Freedom From Religion Foundation v. New Kensington-Arnold School District)

In a separate brief, Americans United said the city of Grand Haven, Mich., didn't violate anyone's free-speech rights when it voted to end display of a Christian symbol on a prominent city-owned hill.

Americans United told the Michigan Court of Appeals that Grand Haven officials have control over what symbols, if any, may be displayed on Dewey Hill.

Last year the Grand Haven City Council voted to end its policy of periodically raising on Dewey Hill a 48-foot tall, 24-foot wide cross, which was attached to a hydraulic lift. …

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