PJI Fights For Christmas Free Speech Rights

Los Angeles – The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Santa Monica after a nearly 60-year tradition was unconstitutionally terminated by city officials.

Each Christmas season, for nearly 60 years, visitors of the Palisades Park in Santa Monica, California, were able to enjoy perse displays—privately hosted—featuring different aspects of the Nativity scene. This annual tradition was bombarded in recent years with challenges from adamant atheists.

The complaints led the City to opening up the display spaces to others interested in using them on a first-come first-serve lottery basis. In 2011 atheists collaborated together, and secured 18 of the 21 spaces. They left spaces empty, and filled others with anti-religious, secular statements.

One of the atheists was quoted as saying, “the atheist groups had no real desire to set up displays, but wanted to counter the Nativity scenes in size and message.” In response to the increased competition for spaces, and the potential for greater controversy, the City Council of Santa Monica opted to do away with the annual tradition instead of welcoming free speech.

The lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles area Becker Law Firm with PJI attorney Michael Peffer as co-counsel, aims to reinstate the long-held tradition, and restore the free-speech that has been banned.

“Stopping this tradition is one of the worst things the City could have done. They have, in effect, given in to the atheists’ demands,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “Government officials throwing out traditional free speech opportunities due to fear of controversy is unwise, and unconstitutional, behavior,” Dacus noted.  

Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights.

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