Saturday, September 26, 2015

Nativity Scene Challenge Dismissed After New Law Creates Neutral Forum

In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Franklin County, Indiana, (SD IN, Sept. 23, 2015), an Indiana federal district court dismissed a suit challenging the annual display of a nativity scene on the lawn of the Franklin County courthouse.  After the suit was filed, the county enacted a new ordinance providing a content neutral system for erecting private displays on the courthouse lawn.  The court held that this eliminated plaintiffs' claim for injunctive relief.  While plaintiffs still sought nominal damages, the court held:
By seeking only nominal damages, plaintiffs concede ... that they suffered no actual injury, or at least that the injury they claim cannot be redressed by an award of actual damages; thus appearing to have no standing.
Thomas More Society issued a press release announcing the decision.