The long-running legal battle between Santa Monica’s Nativity Scenes and the City continued with a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments from both sides Feb. 6 in Pasadena.
The Nativity Scenes appealed a lower court’s dismissal of their lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica. The Scenes had sued the City with charges of “violating our constitutional rights of free speech and free practice of religion” by banning the Nativity Scenes in 2012 from Palisades Park.
A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the suit without trial, and the Nativity Scenes appealed.
“We were very ably represented by William J. Becker, Jr. of the Freedom X law firm of Los Angeles, who has devoted countless hours of his time representing us free of charge,” said Hunter Jameson, Nativity Scenes Chairman.
“Our deep thanks go to him. We also thank the Pacific Justice Institute for paying court costs,” he said.
The Nativity Scenes had been a fixture at Palisades Park for 60 years when the City ruled to remove them in 2012.
“The City’s allowance of unattended displays raised some significant difficulties in terms of the administration of the program, in terms of its impact of the park,” said Barry Rosenbaum, City Attorney
Attorneys for the Nativity Scenes said that the City bullied out a 60-year tradition in Santa Monica that “heralded peace on earth good will to men”.
“It’s really an infringement of a freedom of speech and our freedom of practice of religion really to oust us in this way,” said Jameson.
Attorneys expect that a decision could come in three to six months. There is no deadline for the court to rule.
The court hearing can be viewed on YouTube online at youtube.com/watch?v=EaTjNXyVe90.