A Federal Judge in Florida has ruled that the town of Palm Beach has until noon on Christmas Eve to decide whether it will allow Maureen Donnell and Fern deNarvaez to display Nativity scenes on public property alongside Jewish Menorahs.
For several months, Donnell and deNarvaez, residents of Palm Beach, requested that the city permit them to display a Christmas Nativity on public property alongside Jewish Menorahs that the city has allowed to be displayed during Hanukkah.
Judge Daniel Hurley concluded that the city of Palm Beach’s characterization of the Nativity dispute “is plainly erroneous” and that the city was in “error” by arguing that they need not respond to citizens’ requests to display a Christian Nativity.
In his order, Judge Hurley stated that it “is axiomatic that all persons, including municipal corporations like the Town of Palm Beach, are subject to the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Hurley further noted that “a governmental decision-maker confronted with a citizen’s request for permission to express him or herself on public property is simply not at liberty to decline to consider (i.e. ignore) such requests by inaction.”
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center that filed the lawsuit, said that “the town has been lectured by the judge that they are not above the law. What happens in this case will have a far reaching effect on how Christmas is celebrated throughout Florida.”