Tuesday, January 31, 2023

5th Circuit: FFRF's Suit Against Texas Governor Is Moot

In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Abbott, (5th Cir., Jan.  27, 2023), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that FFRF's suit against the Governor of Texas for wrongfully removing its display from the state Capitol became moot when the Texas State Preservation Board repealed the rule that had allowed private displays in the Capitol. The court said in part:

It is not seriously disputed that the Foundation’s exhibit satisfied the requirements for display or that the Board’s removal of the exhibit violated the First Amendment restrictions concerning speech communicated in a limited public forum. ...

Because the Foundation’s injury is premised on exclusion from expressing its message in a public forum, and because the public forum no longer exists, the permanent injunctive relief ordered by the district court cannot remain.

The court, however, refused to vacate the trial court's order and declaratory judgment, saying that "they might provide important guidance to future disputes." (See prior related posting.)