City must pay atheists group for violating Constitution

Well here is a feel good reason to post on Secular Left. Enjoy —

City must pay atheists group for violating Constitution

The settlement doesn’t carry legal precedent but avoids larger payout.

By JEFF BRUMLEY, The Times-Union

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton defended on Tuesday the city’s Day of Faith anti-violence rally held in August, even though it means the city must pay an atheist group $5,000 in attorneys fees and avoid holding nonsecular events in the future.

A settlement reached Friday requires the city to write New Jersey-based American Atheists Inc. a letter saying it did not intend to violate the First Amendment and will warn department heads against financing programs that “foster excessive entanglement with religion.”

“I have no regrets – it was time well spent and money well spent,” Peyton said about the Aug. 12 rally.

However, Peyton said the city will do a better job of consulting municipal attorneys “to make sure we don’t violate the separation of church and state.”

Chief Deputy General Counsel Cindy Laquidara said the settlement is not an admission the city violated the Constitution in financing the rally. It simply ends a potentially costly federal lawsuit filed by American Atheists shortly after the event, she said.

City must pay atheists group for violating Constitution

Well in difference to what Laquidara said, the settlement pretty much says the city of Jacksonville, Florida did do something wrong, knew it was wrong, and settled to avoid a stiffer penalty. The precedent had already been set in previous cases. Spin it how you want it, American Atheists won the case.

Here is the text of the letter the city will be sending to American Atheists:

To American Atheists Inc.:

On behalf of the City of Jacksonville, Florida, this letter confirms that there was no intention to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in the Day of Faith Program. The City of Jacksonville has issued the following directive regarding future City of Jacksonville, Florida programs:

1. Each program must have a secular purpose;

2. Each program must be one which neither advances nor inhibits religion; and

3. Each program must not foster excessive entanglement with religion.

We trust this letter addresses your concerns. Should you have any questions now or in the future, please do not hesitate to call me.

And that my friends describes the 1st Amendment test to see if a government action is or is not unconstitutional with regard to religion.

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