Tuesday, June 24, 2014

3rd Circuit: No Statute of Limitations For Establishment Clause Challenge To Still-Existing Display

In Tearpock-Martini v. Borough of Shickshinny, (3d Cir., June 23, 2014), the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held that Establishment Clause claims challenging still-existing religious displays are not subject to a statute of limitations defense. At issue was a directional sign on municipal property in a Pennsylvania town pointing the way to a local Baptist church. The sign included a depiction of a cross and a Bible. The court concluded that while the "continuing violation" doctrine does not apply to the display, nevertheless "strict application of the statutory limitations period both serves no salutary purpose and threatens to immunize indefinitely the presence of an allegedly unconstitutional display."