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Town of Palm Beach Pays $50,000 In Attorney Fees Apologizes To Women In Nativity Lawsuit
Thomas More Law Center ^ | 06.29.04

Posted on 06/29/2004 2:24:04 PM PDT by Coleus

Town of Palm Beach Pays $50,000 In Attorney Fees – Apologizes To Women In Nativity Lawsuit

ANN ARBOR, MI — Ending a six month legal battle over Christmas displays, the Town of Palm Beach, Florida this week paid $50,000 in attorney fees to the Thomas More Law Center pursuant to a previously entered federal court Consent Judgment. The Town also acknowledged and publicly apologized for its failure to respond to multiple offers by two of its residents, Maureen Donnell and Fern Tailer deNarvaez, to donate Christian Nativity scenes for display alongside two Town-sponsored Jewish Menorahs during the Christmas holiday season.

Donnell commented, "We won everything that we wanted. All religions will be treated equally. That's all we were fighting for. Now the Town Council must address every situation that comes up, which they did not do with us.”

“I'm so glad we were able to come to an equitable agreement through the efforts of the Thomas More Law Center," added deNarvaez.

The Consent Judgment signed by a federal district court judge in late May acknowledged the importance of recognizing religious holidays and provided that “Should the Town erect or allow the display of religious symbols on public property…all religious symbols will be given equal treatment.” The court also ordered the Town to enact and make public within 90 days written procedures for reviewing citizen requests for religious displays on public property. The Town was also ordered to pay $1.00 to each woman as nominal damages for the Town’s negligence in responding to the women’s requests.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “This lawsuit and the resulting legal fees would have never occurred had the Town displayed some common courtesy toward two of its residents. Clearly, Christians of Palm Beach were being denied the right to express their religious message in a public forum that was open to other religious faiths. This Consent Judgment will bring to an end the Town’s discrimination towards the Christian faith during one of its holiest seasons.”

The case against the Town of Palm Beach began last December after the Town ignored four requests by Donnell and deNarvaez to display privately donated Nativity scenes. The women contacted the Thomas More Law Center which immediately filed a federal lawsuit alleging that for the past two years the Town of Palm Beach had permitted the public display of Jewish Menorahs at various prominent public locations, but had repeatedly refused to review the women’s requests to allow Christian Nativity scenes displayed alongside the approved Menorahs.

Town officials attempted to publicly justify their treatment of the women by claiming that displaying a Nativity scene alongside a Menorah would be unconstitutional. Yet, documents obtained by the Law Center confirmed that months before the lawsuit was filed, Town officials were informed that the display of a Nativity scene alongside a Menorah was constitutionally permissible.

In the Consent Judgment, Town officials agreed that both Donnell and deNarvaez desired to have a Christian Nativity displayed alongside the Menorahs so that Jews and Christians could celebrate together their religious faith, and that the lawsuit may not have been necessary had the Town not repeatedly ignored their requests.

According to Edward L. White III, Associate Counsel with the Law Center, “Thanks to Mrs. Donnell and Mrs. deNarvaez, all citizens will now be able to display their religious symbols equally on public property in Palm Beach without fear of discrimination.”

The Thomas More Law Center is involved in numerous cases across the country dealing with the public display of Christian religious symbols, including a similar lawsuit against the New York City public school system whose written policy permits students to display the Jewish Menorah and the Islamic Star and Crescent, but prohibits students from displaying Christian Nativity scenes. That case is on appeal in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Exclusive Palm Beach, Florida Sued in Federal Court For Discrimination- Allows Jewish Menorahs, But Not Christian NativityANN ARBOR, MI — Refusal by the exclusive Town of Palm Beach, Florida to allow the display of Christian Nativity scenes even though they allow the Jewish Menorah to be displayed on public property has prompted a federal lawsuit by two of its residents against the Town and its officials. The lawsuit was brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Maureen Donnell and Fern deNarvaez.

Donnell and deNarvaez, both residents of Palm Beach, seek an immediate temporary restraining order that would allow a nativity scene to be erected on Town property in the same manner as the two Menorah displays.

The lawsuit filed Monday morning alleges that for the past two years the Town of Palm Beach has permitted the public display of Jewish Menorahs at various prominent public locations, and that Town officials have repeatedly refused to review requests to have Christian Nativity scenes displayed alongside the Menorahs. This policy and practice, the suit alleges, demonstrates hostility toward Christians, and impermissibly conveys the message of disapproval of the Christian faith. The suit also alleges that the Town has unconstitutionally deprived the plaintiffs of their right to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution.

As early as September of this year, Palm Beach resident Fern deNarvaez requested that the Town permit a privately financed display of a Christian Nativity scene to be displayed with the Menorahs. In addition, resident Maureen Donnell made four subsequent requests in October and November, finally requesting that the Town respond by December 1st. Town officials did not respond to these requests.

In a statement issued Monday morning Donnell indicated, “It is not our intention to remove the Menorahs, but to have a Christmas Nativity scene equally displayed alongside the Menorahs to acknowledge the celebration of Christmas. The refusal to review my repeated requests is discriminatory and an insult to every Christian in this town.”

Plaintiff deNarvaez was equally disturbed by the Town’s inaction. “The Nativity scene represents the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Christians around the world. I simply cannot accept this double standard being applied to the Christmas holiday.”

Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center that filed the lawsuit commented, “By refusing to respond to the repeated requests of its residents, the Town of Palm Beach has demonstrated a hostility towards Christianity during one of its holiest seasons. Christian residents of Palm Beach are being denied the right to express their religious message in a public forum that is open to other religious faiths, and the Thomas More Law Center has filed this lawsuit to stop this injustice. This is but another example of the national movement to remove Christ from Christmas.”

The Law Center filed a similar lawsuit last year against the New York City public school system whose written policy permits students to display the Jewish Menorah, and the Islamic Star and Crescent, but prohibits students from displaying Christmas Nativity scenes. A ruling on that case is expected soon.

Town Says 'No' to Nativity Scene, 'Yes' to Menorah

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NO NATIVITY SCENE

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America's controversial Christmas trees

Judge: No Nativity Scene Displays in NYC Schools


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; Politics/Elections; US: Florida; US: New York
KEYWORDS: aclu; catholic; christian; churchandstate; communists; creche; doublestandard; fl; florida; jesus; jewish; nativity; nativityscene; nyc; palmbeach; protestant; publicsquare; religion; religioustolerance; thomasmore; tolerance; waronchristmas; waronchristmas2004

1 posted on 06/29/2004 2:24:05 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...


2 posted on 06/29/2004 2:26:44 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Coleus

I am just a little surprised Palm Beach did not have a Taliban display up during the Christmas holidays.


3 posted on 06/29/2004 2:29:57 PM PDT by Always Right
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To: Coleus

Thanks so much for posting this.

Maybe the tide is turning. The ACLU must be all a-twitter over the decision.


4 posted on 06/29/2004 2:30:27 PM PDT by Mears
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To: Mears
Maybe the tide is turning. The ACLU must be all a-twitter over the decision.

ROTFL

I'm a little suprised they didn't appeal.

Won one for the good guys.

5 posted on 06/29/2004 2:36:05 PM PDT by Mister Baredog ((Part of the Reagan legacy is to re-elect G.W. Bush))
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To: Coleus

Wait.......you mean that the birth of Jesus might actually be legal again??? No way....not in the USA!!

ACLU be damned!!!


6 posted on 06/29/2004 2:37:20 PM PDT by Gator113
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To: Coleus

American Christians should never assume that others are as tolerant of other religions as they.


7 posted on 06/29/2004 2:37:38 PM PDT by bayourod (Can the 9/11 Commission connect the dots on Iraq or do they require a 3-D picture?)
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To: Coleus

And the Palm Beach Post is silent. Not a word.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/


8 posted on 06/29/2004 2:39:09 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1 (Freedom Stands Because Heroes Serve.)
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To: Coleus

$50,000 is peanuts. There should have been criminal convictions of town officials, heavy fines imposed on the city, and large civil judgements levied by the Federal court system. Civil rights are civil rights....


9 posted on 06/29/2004 2:41:10 PM PDT by tracer
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To: Coleus

A Navity scene as part of a Christmas display? Why didn't I think of it?


10 posted on 06/29/2004 2:49:01 PM PDT by nonsporting
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To: Coleus

A Nav[tiv]ity scene as part of a Christmas display? Why didn't I think of it?


11 posted on 06/29/2004 2:49:41 PM PDT by nonsporting
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To: Coleus
Donnell commented, "We won everything that we wanted. All religions will be treated equally. That's all we were fighting for. Now the Town Council must address every situation that comes up, which they did not do with us.”

Be careful what you wish for, there are a lot of "religions" out there.

12 posted on 06/29/2004 2:52:01 PM PDT by YankeeinOkieville
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To: Coleus
The Town was also ordered to pay $1.00 to each woman as nominal damages for the Town’s negligence in responding to the women’s requests.

The $50,000 was for attorney's fees to get the two $1 judgments and permission to display religious symbols.

13 posted on 06/29/2004 3:03:50 PM PDT by FoxInSocks
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To: Coleus; All
Hoo-yah!!

I'm a Charter Member of Thomas More Law Center (ThomasMore.org) and support the The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ.org). Supporting these fine organizations is one way to fight the ACLU.

14 posted on 06/29/2004 3:14:04 PM PDT by EdReform (Support Free Republic - All donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!)
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To: Gator113

The ACLU is only mildly upset by the birth of Jesus. His death and resurrection drives them completely over the edge.


15 posted on 06/29/2004 3:20:54 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: YankeeinOkieville

Be careful what you wish for, there are a lot of "religions" out there.>>

Good point: Wicca, Pagan, Santeria, Druid, Gaia, Earth Worship,

What out for what you wish, you just may as well get it!


16 posted on 06/29/2004 3:26:42 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Always Right

They did have a display. It was a large sign that said "Kerry for President".


17 posted on 06/29/2004 4:23:21 PM PDT by 17th Miss Regt
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To: Coleus
The Law Center filed a similar lawsuit last year against the New York City public school system whose written policy permits students to display the Jewish Menorah, and the Islamic Star and Crescent, but prohibits students from displaying Christmas Nativity scenes. A ruling on that case is expected soon.

It will be interesting to see whether NYC can be weclomed back to America as well.

18 posted on 06/29/2004 4:24:40 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Coleus

I'm surprised that Jewish people aren't raising a ruckus ... the municipalities, school systems, etc., are implying that Judaism isn't a religion.


19 posted on 06/29/2004 4:31:52 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Tautologies are the only horses I bet on. -- Old Professer)
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To: YankeeinOkieville
Be careful what you wish for, there are a lot of "religions" out there.

Has there ever been any legal definition or criteria for what's to be labelled a 'religion'?

20 posted on 06/29/2004 4:45:58 PM PDT by nosofar ("I'm not above the Law. I am the Law!" - Judge Dredd)
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To: Coleus
Well...
That was probably the last year they will allow anything on public display.
21 posted on 06/29/2004 4:56:17 PM PDT by Publius6961 (I don't do diplomacy either.)
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To: Always Right

Palm Beach is very Jewish and unlikely to go that far, even if leftist.


22 posted on 06/29/2004 4:58:55 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: Coleus; american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp IV; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; ...
Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list


23 posted on 06/29/2004 5:33:48 PM PDT by NYer ("Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels.")
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To: nosofar; YankeeinOkieville

Has there ever been any legal definition or criteria for what's to be labelled a 'religion'?>>

The US Govt. has approved Wicca to be an offical religion and now allowes it on military bases.

The SCOTUS decided that animal sacrifices were allowed to be performed during santeria ceremonies.


24 posted on 06/29/2004 6:10:19 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Coleus

BTTT!


25 posted on 06/29/2004 7:47:50 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: JoeSixPack1

Lovely.

- sigh -


26 posted on 06/29/2004 7:56:56 PM PDT by getmeouttaPalmBeachCounty_FL ("Those poor, misguided Democrats." -- Ronald Reagan)
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To: Coleus
The SCOTUS decided that animal sacrifices were allowed to be performed during santeria ceremonies.

Was PETA invloved in that lawsuit?

27 posted on 06/30/2004 6:01:41 AM PDT by ELS
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To: ELS

Was PETA invloved in that lawsuit?>>

Not sure about that, they probably were. I know they were protesting a Santeria "place" in NJ recently when they decided to do an animal sacrifice.


28 posted on 07/14/2004 5:59:58 PM PDT by Coleus (Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer.)
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Thomas More Law Center on O'Reilly TONIGHT
 
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29 posted on 07/14/2004 6:05:54 PM PDT by Coleus (Abraham Lincoln was a trial lawyer.)
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