(Washington, D.C., October 31, 2018) – Late yesterday, the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) attorneys defended their May 2018 church state separation victory against the City of Ocala in a hearing before a U.S. District Court in Florida. At the hearing, the City of Ocala asked the Court to vacate the May ruling that found the city’s actions in connection with a 2014 prayer vigil unconstitutional.
“The city’s attempt to vacate the judgment holding city officials responsible for a blatant First Amendment violation is meritless,” explains Monica Miller, AHA Senior Counsel. Miller continues, “In yesterday’s hearing, Legal Director David Niose emphasized the importance of holding government officials responsible for Establishment Clause violations.”
The American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit in 2014 on behalf of Ocala residents, challenging the constitutionality of a Christian prayer vigil organized, led, promoted, and sponsored by the City of Ocala and its police department. The vigil included religious hymns, obviously Christian sermons, and officer-led prayer. This spring, the Court ruled in favor of the AHA, finding that the city’s actions in organizing, sponsoring, and conducting a community prayer vigil violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The AHA’s August 2018 Opposition to the Motion to Vacate can be found here.
The May 2018 District Court Order can be found here.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans, including over 2800 members in Florida. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in 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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