Saturday, September 08, 2007

ADF: Jesus painting will remain at Slidell courthouse

re: "New Orleans. — A federal judge Friday refused to grant a demand by the American Civil Liberties Union to have a painting of Jesus Christ removed from a display at the Slidell city courthouse. The judge said that the case, in which Alliance Defense Fund attorneys represented city, parish, and court officials, is essentially over. / “The court today recognized that the First Amendment allows public officials, and not the ACLU, to determine what is appropriate for acknowledging our nation’s legal and cultural heritage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson. “The ACLU’s sole and stated objective in this case was to have the Jesus painting removed. But the Constitution does not prohibit public buildings from memorializing great figures from our history.” / “It’s sad that we’ve reached a point where such images have to be defended. The ruling today is believed to be the first-ever federal court decision to specifically review and uphold as constitutional an image of an adult Jesus on public display. While such images and other religious symbols are common in public buildings throughout the U.S., none have been challenged in this manner before,” Johnson added. / On Aug. 31, officials with the Slidell City Court mounted 15 portraits of notable lawgivers in history along the walls of the Slidell courthouse to accompany the painting of Jesus that had been on display there for years ( The other portraits include depictions of Moses, Charlemagne, and Sir William Blackstone, among others. Alongside the 16 framed prints are a reproduction of the U.S. Constitution and a mounted explanation of the various figures in the paintings. / “The explanations address how the figures in the display contributed to the foundation of laws that govern our land,” said Johnson. “Even the walls of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., contain marble friezes of ‘great lawgivers in history.’ The ACLU has been effectively halted today in part of its quest to have historical references sandblasted from existence in this country.” / In July, ADF attorneys agreed to represent the city of Slidell, the parish of St. Tammany, and Slidell City Court Judge James “Jim” Lamz in the lawsuit Doe v. Parish of St. Tammany after it was filed by the ACLU. At a hearing Friday, Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled against the ACLU and said that the only remaining issue to be discussed is attorneys’ fees. / “We are very appreciative that Judge Lemelle recognized Judge Lamz’s integrity and honesty throughout this case,” said Slidell City Court spokesperson Ann Barks..."...

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