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Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality Of Jackson Co. Courthouse Nativity Display

The nativity display on the Jackson County Courthouse lawn. (Filed in court with complaint)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing Jackson County on behalf of a resident who says a Nativity display on the courthouse lawn violates the Constitution.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit Dec. 28, shortly after a Madison, Wisconsin-based organization wrote a letter to Jackson County Commissioners asking for the Nativity display to be taken down. 

According to the lawsuit complaint, resident Rebecca Woodring frequently travels to Brownstown and is "forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact with the display." It says the display is an endorsement of religious belief, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint says the county responded to the letter by placing a figure of Santa and carolers near the Nativity display. 

"The addition of Santa and the carolers does not in any way minimize the religiosity of the display," the complaint says. "Moreover, even if the carolers and Santa are viewed as part of the display the carolers appear to be participating in the praise of the baby Jesus and Santa appears to be welcoming viewers into the religious scene being played." 

The suit says seeing the display has caused Woodring "irreparable harm." It asks a judge to permanently bar the County from displaying a Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn and pay for Woodring's court costs. 

Read the full complaint:

Jackson Co. Nativity Lawsuit - Complaint 

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