In dismissing a suit involving a 14-booth nativity scene, one
attorney says a California judge has allowed a city to ban all
forms of speech.
U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins has dismissed the Santa
Monica Nativity Scenes Committee's lawsuit that sought to
re-implement a nativity display in a public park (see earlier story). Collins said the city of
Santa Monica has the right to ban all displays in Palisades Parks
after a lottery system the city enforced allowed atheist groups to
post anti-Christmas and anti-Christianity signs and banners.
Following that controversy,
the city chose to completely remove all displays, including a
nativity scene that stood for nearly 60 years.
"We're disappointed in the decision by the district court and
are hoping that the rights of the citizens who brought this case
will be vindicated in the Ninth Circuit," states Kevin Snider,
chief counsel with the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
"It's essentially a heckler's veto, and there [are] no real
alternative forms [of speech] in the park for this. This is a
unique type of speech."
William Becker, Jr. of The Becker Law Firm, lead counsel for the
Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, reports that the Committee
will appeal the decision to the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals. Becker
calls the dismissal of this case a "badly reasoned and excessively