Sunday, February 07, 2010

Lawsuit Challenges Library's Meeting Room Policy

A federal civil rights action was filed on Thursday challenging the refusal by the New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Public Library to allow its meeting rooms to be used for a seminar titled "Is Religion Alive in America?". The seminar, which focuses on how Christian principles apply to current events, includes prayer, Bible reading and religious songs. The library rejected the request because its rules prohibit use of meeting rooms, among other things, for religious services. The complaint (full text) in Verdugo v. Volusia County, Florida, (MD FL, filed 2/4/2010), alleges that the policy singles out religious speech for unfavorable treatment. It contends that the rule violates the speech, free exercise and Establishment clauses of 1st Amendment, the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendments as well as Florida's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Alliance Defense Fund issued a release announcing the filing of the lawsuit and discussing other similar challenges filed in recent months.