Loading
ACLU wins lawsuit against courthouse’s Jesus picture, but picture remains
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit alleging that a lone painting of Jesus in the Slidell, Louisiana courthouse is unconstitutional, Cybercast News Service reports. 

However, the picture remains on display.

The image is now flanked by images based on the frieze of the United States Supreme Court, which includes other historic figures such as Hammurabi, Moses, Confucius, Mohammed, Charlemagne, and Napoleon Bonaparte.  The modified display is expected to pass constitutional requirements.

Some experts said the case is unique because the picture of Jesus is still on display. 

“This is the first case I know of that upholds a display of a picture of Jesus," Douglas Laycock, professor of constitutional law at the University of Michigan Law School, said to Cybercast News Service. "It is significant."

The ACLU had argued that the plaintiffs, “John Doe” and others, "have suffered, or shall suffer, damages, including mental anguish and emotional distress" from viewing the image.”

Judge Lemelle awarded only $1 in damages, which Laycock said was significant.  "The judge wasn't persuaded by that 'trauma' if he only awarded a dollar," he said.  The city will also have to pay the ACLU’s legal expenses.

Michael Johnson, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that defended the city, said the ADF is “disappointed” with the ruling, but called it a “shallow victory” for the ACLU.

“The ACLU is proclaiming a win, but they really didn't accomplish anything. Their objective was to get the Jesus picture taken down, and it's still prominently displayed," Johnson said.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of ACLU Louisiana, said her organization was “absolutely victorious.”  She told Cybercast News Service "The court ruled very clearly that the initial display was a violation of the Constitution. The city of Slidell changed [the display] at the last minute."

Esman said the case never should have gone to litigation, saying the city refused to take the picture down after being asked.  “They invited us to file a lawsuit, and now the taxpayers of Slidell are going to get stuck with the bill,” she said.

Roger Pilon, vice-president of the libertarian Cato Institute, said the Jesus picture was a “perfectly clear” violation of the First Amendment.  He said he did not see a significant difference in the picture’s inclusion in a more secular display.  

Slidell, Louisiana is still recovering from the destruction created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Most of the city’s government buildings were destroyed, and many departments are still housed in FEMA trailers. 

"You can see why the community was not thrilled with all this going on and the ACLU came around being bullies," city spokeswoman Ann Barks said to Cybercast News Service.  She said the picture of Jesus was installed more than 10 years ago by a judge who reportedly purchased it at a yard sale.  According to Sparks, the picture was not displayed for religious reasons.

"It was put up there to encourage people in the community to follow the law,” she said.

Slidell Mayor Ben Morris said the painting, which measures 24 by 24 inches and was hung high on a wall, was usually not noticed. 

"I've been in and out of the courthouse many times and never even knew it was there," Morris said.  He said he “respectfully” disagreed with the judge, and called the ACLU the “American Taliban” and “the most vile group that exists in America.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Nov
24

Liturgical Calendar

November 24, 2014

Sa int Andrew D?ng - L?c, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 21:1-4

Gospel
Date
11/24/14
11/23/14
11/22/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Rev 14: 1-3, 4B-5
Gospel:: Lk 21: 1-4

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
11/24/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 21:1-4

Homily
Date
11/24/14
11/21/14
11/20/14