(JACKSON CO.) – The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Jackson County in placing their nativity scene on the Jackson County Courthouse Square.
In the ruling, the appeals court refused the opinion of Federal Judge Tanya Pratt, who previously ruled in favor of the ACLU plaintiff Rebecca Woodring. Woodring does not live or work in Jackson County and does not transact any business in the Jackson County Courthouse.
The Seventh Circuit ruled that having the nativity scene is constitutional and can be placed on the courthouse lawn.
The Seventh District Circuit wrote “We conclude that the County’s nativity scene is constitutional because it fits within a long national tradition of using the nativity scene in broader holiday displays to celebrate the origins of Christmas – a public holiday,”
The Brownstown Ministerial Association purchased the nativity and has placed the nativity scene on the courthouse square annually. The display also includes a large lighted Santa Claus, a sleigh with reindeer, and a group of Christmas carolers. The courthouse is also decorated with lights and other non-religious symbols of the holiday season.
WBIW reached out to Jackson County District 1 Commissioner Drew Markel for reaction on the ruling.
“I think this case is a victory for communities across the state and United States in the ruling. We stood up for the Constitution of the United States, we could have folded on this, but all three Jackson County Commissioners stood together against someone who made garbage claims,” said Markel.
The county hired Liberty Counsel to defend us in this matter, however, many law firms wrote briefs in this case for our position in this matter,” added Markel.
The questions regarding the nativity scene started on December 28, 2018, when Woodring who is an atheist started raising concerns about the display. Jackson County residents, local political figures, state officials, and many religious organizations throughout Southern Indiana attended a rally on the courthouse lawn in support of the nativity scene.
“I would like to thank the entire legal team at Liberty Counsel for their tireless work. I hope that more communities and leaders will see this case’s outcome and stand up against these groups while protecting their constituents’ constitutional rights,” said Markel.
Liberty Counsel is based in Orlando Florida, and the legal expenses for this case did not cost Jackson County taxpayers, according to Markel.