Thursday, June 26, 2014

7th Circuit: Church Lacks Standing To Appeal Injunction Against City On Cross Display

In Cabral v. City of Evansville, Indiana, (7th Cir., June 25, 2014), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed for lack of standing an appeal of an Indiana federal district court's injunction barring Evansville from permitting a church's proposed display of 31 six-foot tall crosses on 4-block Riverfront area. The district court concluded that the display would violate the Establishment Clause. (See prior posting.) The city of Evansville did not appeal; the church involved (West Side Christian) which had been an intervenor in the case below did.  The 7th Circuit concluded that since the injunction ran only against the city, vacating it would not necessarily remedy any injury West Side suffered.  The city could still refuse to permit the display. In addition, any decision the 7th Circuit made on the merits would affect only the city which is not a party to the appeal.  The court concluded that in order to obtain standing, West Side would need to apply for a permit and have it denied by the city because of the district court's injunction.  The 7th Circuit then added:
We caution, however, that West Side’s road ahead might not necessarily get any easier if it ever attains standing to challenge the injunction. We question whether a reasonable observer would be put on notice that the “Cross the River” display is strictly private speech given the sheer magnitude of a display that takes up four blocks and has two signs alerting citizens that it is a private display.