About this Case

In this case, citizens of Bloomfield, New Mexico, sued their city, claiming that a display of a Ten Commandments monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  Despite the facts that the display was located in an area in which the city had invited citizens to display other monuments and that a plague stated that the display was private speech, not government speech, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the monument was, in fact, government speech, and that it did violate the Establishment Clause.  The city filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case.

Summary of NLF's Brief

We filed a brief, on behalf of our friends at the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, supporting the city’s request for the Supreme Court to review the case.  In our brief we noted that the citizens had brought their case under a federal statute that allows the citizens’ attorney to collect attorney’s fees.  We explained why Establishment Clause cases ought not be permitted to be brought under this statute.  Doing so, allows groups like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation to blackmail cities, towns, and counties with the threat of attorney’s fees.  In appropriate cases, the National Legal Foundation will defend towns and counties for free, but the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation will respond by saying that if the town or county loses, it will have to pay their fees.

Our brief also explained that governments can acknowledge, accommodate, and encourage religion without establishing it.  We explained why, even if the monument was government speech—which we did not believe it was—the monument at most encouraged religion, which is entirely permissible.

Unfortunately, the supreme Court refused to review the case.