Appeals Court Upholds Nativity Scene Ban in Santa Monica

AP Photo
AP Photo

On Thursday, the Republic of Santa Monica, California, not content with its 2010 designation as the homeless capital of America, when 48,000 people lived on the streets, won a victory in its continuing quest to capture the title of America’s most anti-Christian city.

The city had banned unattended Nativity scene displays in Palisades Park, which won in court; Thursday the notorious 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.

The court ruled in favor of the city against the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, arguing that the city had secular reasons for the ban, including the aesthetics of the park and the administrative burdens on the city. Santa Monica’s City Council initiated the ban in 2012, which triggered the lawsuit from the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee, which asserted that the ban violated its right to free speech and also implied that the city was hostile to Christianity.

Bill Becker, who represented the Nativity Scenes Committee, said the Committee will not appeal the matter any further, telling KPCC, “We understood when we filed this lawsuit that we were in the Ninth Circuit and that it would be difficult to win the case, but we felt that we could take a chance.” He added that the committee still display scenes on private property.

The initial court decision in November 2012 came after atheists inundated the city’s auction process for display sites, some of which displayed signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil, gaining 18 of the 21 available spaces; nativity scenes had been featured in Palisades Park for decades. U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins first denied an injunction from the Nativity Scenes Committee in early November, then issued a ruling at the end of November banning the Nativity display.

Sadly, Santa Monica was once known as “The City of the Christmas Story.”


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