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Freethought Today · November 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

States side with appeal of cross decision

Fourteen states have filed a friend of the court brief siding with the city of Pensacola, Fla., in its appeal to keep the 34-foot tall Bayview Park cross, which was ruled unconstitutional after FFRF and the American Humanist Association filed suit.

FFRF and AHA filed a lawsuit against the city in May 2016 on behalf of four people who had objections to the cross being on city-owned property. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year in favor of FFRF and AHA.

On Oct. 3, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined 13 other states' attorneys general in signing on to a brief written by Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall's office. The brief supports the city of Pensacola's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that the cross in the city-owned park violated the separation of church and state.

In addition to Florida and Alabama, other states joining the friend of the court brief are Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.

In addition to the 14 states, five Jewish groups, a municipal attorneys group, the Foundation for Moral Law and JCI Florida — the descendant group of the Pensacola Jaycees that placed the cross in the park — have all filed friends of the court briefs supporting Pensacola's appeal.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the city in its appeal of the lawsuit. FFRF and AHA have until Nov. 16 to file their legal brief. After that, Becket will have until Dec. 14 to file a reply.