Summary judgment sought in lawsuit over Baxter courthouse Nativity display | Arkansas Blog

Summary judgment sought in lawsuit over Baxter courthouse Nativity display

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NATIVITY SCENE: Rick Spencer erecting display in Mountain Home.
  • NATIVITY SCENE: Rick Spencer erecting display in Mountain Home.

The attorney in the lawsuit challenging the annual Nativity scene at the Baxter County Courthouse has asked a federal court for a summary judgment in the case.

The Baxter Bulletin reports on a legal filing by Gerry Schulze. It says the county must either provide a forum for other beliefs or cease the Nativity display. The county has always justified the display as a private act by local lawyer Rick Spencer. Schulze represents a local resident and the American Humanist Association.

"There's a lot of law cited here, but really what it says is that it's unconstitutional to have a display unless it's equally open to everyone," Schulze said. "Frankly, my client would far prefer a display open to everyone equally without discrimination."

The suit contends the nativity scene is unconstitutional and that the county refuses to allow religions other than Christianity, or anyone with no religion, to have representation on the courthouse lawn. In 2013 and 2014, the suit notes Pendergrass denied requests to place a "Happy Winter Solstice" banner on the lawn, and that last year he wouldn't allow a menorah to be placed on the courthouse property.

The case is scheduled for trial in October.


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