City officials decline to appeal ruling of federal judge
For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105
Monica Miller, email@example.com, 202-238-9088 ext. 120
(Los Angeles, CA, April 23, 2014)—The City of Lake Elsinore, CA, has declined to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that a public monument depicting crosses violates the Establishment Clause of the U. S. Constitution and the Establishment Clause and No Preference Clause of the California constitution.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in May 2013 on behalf of local residents who objected to the government-endorsed religious message of the planned monument. Meant to honor war veterans, the memorial’s design prominently features the image of a soldier kneeling before a Christian cross. A U.S. District Court ruled in February 2014 that the city’s use of that design favors religion over non-religion, violating the separation of church and state. Today, the city has agreed to not appeal the case.
“We are pleased with the city’s decision not to appeal,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Continuing to fight this lawsuit would waste taxpayer dollars to support a monument that clearly violates the separation of church and state.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) originally sent a letter to the City of Lake Elsinore when some city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism was at least part of the reason why they supported its construction. In July 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson issued a preliminary injunction against the city, which halted the building of the monument until the final ruling. Now that the city has agreed not to appeal that ruling, it can choose to spend those public funds on a design that honors all veterans.
“The Lake Elsinore monument violated the Constitution and was unnecessarily divisive,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “We should erect memorials that respect everyone who fought for our freedoms—religious and non-religious alike.”
The final ruling on the case can be viewed here.
# # #
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, 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.