Constitutional Law

Federal judge dismisses ACLU suit over courthouse lawn nativity scene

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A federal judge has dismissed a civil rights suit over a Christmas nativity scene at an Indiana courthouse, finding that Franklin County officials have cured the problem with a new ordinance.

It allows other county residents to put displays of their own, religious or not, on the lawn outside the courthouse along with the nativity scene, the Indianapolis Star reports.

“Given the fact that the policies for courthouse displays were changed upon Franklin County’s own volition (albeit under the pressure of the instant litigation), the court finds that there is no reasonable expectation that the allegedly unconstitutional activity will recur and there is no proof presently which suggests that Franklin County has committed a constitutional violation,” said U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in her written opinion.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which brought the suit on a client’s behalf, says it is disappointed and is reviewing possible appeal options.

“The case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, and there was no ruling on whether the county acted constitutionally,” said attorney Gavin Rose in a written statement provided to the Associated Press.

Related coverage: “‘Tis the season for lawsuits over holiday displays”

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