Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Riverfront Crosses Appeal Is Dismissed

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Riverfront Crosses Appeal Is Dismissed

Article excerpt

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by an Evansville church involving a stymied display of crosses planned for last summer on the city's Downtown Riverfront. In a decision written by Judge Ann Claire Williams, the appeals court dismissed the case on the grounds that West Side Christian Church, which had planned the display, was not a party to the original lawsuit and lacked standing to file an appeal.

The challenge to the display was brought by two Evansville residents against the city, which chose not to appeal a U.S. District Court ruling by a judge in Indianapolis blocking the display on public property.

The other two appeals court justices who heard the case were John Daniel Tinder and Ilana Rovner.

West Side Christian Church had proposed erecting a display of 31 6-foot-tall crosses along the riverfront last summer. The display was challenged by Evansville residents Nancy Tarsitano Drake and Chris Cabral, along with the American Civil Liberties Union. The residents had objected to it on the grounds it violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's "establishment" clause prohibiting government sponsorship of a particular religion.

Wednesday evening, Drake said she hopes the city can move on from this and that West Side Christian Church will celebrate its religion and its crosses - only on private property.

While glad to hear the case was denied, she's disappointed the appellate court didn't rule on constitutional grounds.

Chris Wischer, attorney for West Side Christian Church, said he had not yet had a chance to review the appeals court's ruling but "obviously, the decision is disappointing."

In July 2013, when U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker sided with the ACLU of Indiana, she cited a three-pronged test for Establishment Clause, set by the 1971 Supreme Court case of Lemon v. …

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