Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Monument Challenges Dismissed For Lack of Standing

In American Atheists, Inc. v. Levy County, (ND FL, Dec. 3, 2017), a Florida federal district court dismissed on standing grounds a challenge to a Ten Commandments monument in a courtyard outside county government buildings, as well as a challenge to the county's refusal to allow placement in the same area of a granite bench dedicated to non-believers.  Dismissing plaintiffs' Establishment Clause challenge to the Ten Commandments, the court said in part:
Plaintiffs have failed to meet the injury-in-fact requirement because [plaintiff] Mr. Sparrow is unlikely to encounter the Monument in the future and because his only encounter with the Monument in the past was during a purposeful visit.
Dismissing an equal protection challenge to the refusal of a permit for the monument to atheists, the court held that "Plaintiffs lack standing because they have failed to show redressability."  Their proposal did not comply with guidelines for permissible monuments.  The court concluded:
Had counsel for Plaintiffs devoted more thought to these [standing] issues, then perhaps this Court could have addressed the merits of this dispute. But counsel didn’t, so this case must be dismissed for lack of standing.
Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.