(Washington, DC, November 16th, 2017)—Today, the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Appignani Humanist Legal Center filled their Appellate Brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, asking the court to uphold the Florida district court’s decision that a 30-foot Christian cross being displayed in a city park and maintained by taxpayer money violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The AHA in conjunction with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FRFF) filed a lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of Pensacola residents who felt that a large cross, located in a city park and maintained by the city government, represented a troubling elevation of the Christian faith above other beliefs.
“This appeal involves the straightforward issue of whether a city’s massive, freestanding Christian cross — prominently displayed on city property — violates the Establishment Clause,” said Monica Miller, Senior Counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Eleventh Circuit has already ruled that a cross displayed in a government park violates the Establishment Clause, and the other federal courts have been virtually unanimous in finding crosses unconstitutional, irrespective of how old they are, whether they are accompanied by other symbols or secular monuments, or have independent historical or practical significance.”
“Most government representatives do the right thing and correct their mistakes when we point out violations of the law,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA. “But the City of Pensacola continues to act irresponsibly by appealing an unsound case and racking up fees that will very likely be paid by the taxpayers of Pensacola.”
Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor agrees. “It’s appalling that Pensacola city officials are determined to be in the wrong,” she says. “Their flagrant breach of the constitutional wall of separation is unconscionable.”
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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