“The ACLU got caught with its hands in the constitutional cookie jar. Its prolonged campaign against the good citizens of Dixie County has come to a screeching halt. In getting kicked out of court, the ACLU has learned that it cannot impose its San Francisco values upon a small town in Florida, using a phantom member from North Carolina.”
Furthermore, the ACLU must pay court costs for its deceit and failed lawsuit in dredging up a non-existent complaint for "John Doe."
In Dixie County, Florida, a local resident was allowed to place a privately-owned, five-foot, six-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments atop the Dixie County Courthouse steps. The phrase “LOVE GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS” is chiseled into the base.
According to the Constitution, this type of religious expression is allowed by any and all citizens.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The residents of Dixie County, Florida, were pleased with the addition. Nevertheless, in order to appease any grinches, a plaque was posted "saying the views and opinions expressed in this area aren’t necessarily the views of the county." source
The ACLU found their grinch and filed a lawsuit on behalf of "John Doe," an anonymous ACLU member from North Carolina who supposedly was considering the purchase of land in Dixie County. Though in reality he has no legal interest in the area, he was offended by the monument.
Predictably, the right to free exercise of religion was dismissed by the ACLU. They argued that the presence of the privately-purchased monument on the steps of the county courthouse showed government endorsement and that such displays “communicate a message to non-Christians of outsider status in American political life."
The district court ordered removal of the monument finding that the county was sending “an unmistakable message that it supports and promotes the religious message that appears on it."
Appeal of decision
The County appealed the decision of the monument's removal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Atlanta-based.
In August 2012, the appellate court found John Doe’s testimony not credible. Their order said:
"Doe is not a resident of the county, nor does he have any legal or business obligations that would require him to visit the county. His sole source of potential injury in this case springs from his interest in possibly buying land in the county. Doe contends that the offensiveness of the statue has imposed a burden on him to avoid the county courthouse and to abandon his property search in the county; he alleges that this burden is tantamount to an injury."
The case was remanded back to the district court to resolve the inconsistencies in John Doe’s testimony.
Back before the district court
The court ordered John Doe to be deposed.
The ACLU was forced to admit that their John Doe does not plan to buy property in Dixie County and that, therefore, their case lacks standing.
Case dismissed. The private Ten Commandments monument remains.
WCTV: "....the ruling quashes private speech in a public forum since the monument was paid for by a private citizen." ...... "Dixie County residents say support for their monument is unanimous. They accuse outsiders of trampling on their way of life.
The ACLU of Florida says the monument can be displayed elsewhere."