Eight months after a lawsuit was filed against a Jackson County Ohio school district over a Jesus painting that had hung in a stairwell of the middle school building for 66 years, a final settlement has concluded the case. The Jackson City School District agreed to remove the painting from school district property and pay $3,000 in damages to each of the suit’s five anonymous plaintiffs as well as the legal costs for the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The district also tried to claim that since insurance paid out the damages, no taxpayer dollars were used. Taxes are used to pay the insurance premium, and will likely increase because of the claim, so like their idea that the Jesus painting was not a violation of the law, their idea about no taxpayer money being used to pay off the lawsuit is also wrong.
A southern Ohio school district has agreed to keep a portrait of Jesus off district property and pay $95,000 to settle a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a Wisconsin foundation.
In the settlement accepted today by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, the Jackson City School District agreed to pay $3,000 in damages to each of the suit’s five anonymous plaintiffs.
The district also will pay $80,000 to cover legal fees incurred by the Ohio chapter of the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis., which sued the district on behalf of the three parents and two students.
“This case could have ended before it began if the school had simply acknowledged that it is not the government’s place to endorse one specific religion in a public school that children are legally required to attend,” [James Hardiman, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio] said. “This is a basic constitutional principle backed up by decades of case law.”
The guy from the ACLU is spot on. This case was one of the slam-dunk separation cases I like to see and the ACLU and FFRF tried to tell the school district that fact. The school district should sue the religious right group, the Liberty Institute, who gave them wrong advice that the case was winnable.
If I were a Jackson county taxpayer, I would be pissed the district wasted my money on a case they knew they couldn’t win.
For more information on this case, check out previous posts here on Secular Left.