Friday, March 27, 2015

Groups Challenge Residency Limits In Courthouse Open Forum Law

As previously reported, last December the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued Franklin County, Indiana, challenging a Nativity Scene placed on the Courthouse lawn.  The suit was dropped after the county enacted a law making the county courthouse a public forum for all types of expressive activities. (See prior posting.)  However this week, FFRF and the Satanic Temple have filed a new lawsuit against the county charging that the open forum law still violates their free expression rights.  The complaint (full text) in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Franklin County, Indiana, (SD IN, filed 3/24/2015), contends that the provision in the open forum law limiting it to Franklin County residents is not narrowly tailored to further a substantial governmental interest.  Both plaintiffs were denied permits for displays. FFRF had applied to place a display of several cut-out figures on the Courthouse lawn from Nov. 29, 2015 to Jan. 6, 2016 to celebrate the December 15th "nativity" of the Bill of Rights. Satanic Temple wanted to erect a three-dimensional sculpture during the same time period.  FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.