Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Does a Cross Belong in a City Park? 11th Circuit Panel Will Weigh In

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

Yet another legal skirmish about religious imposition, brought to you by the conservative Becket Fund.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

The infamous Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is at it again—this time in a case about whether a cross can be erected in a city park. Several residents who want the cross removed from Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida, claim that it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. A district court judge agreed. The Becket Fund hopes it persuaded a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that the lower court got it wrong; the court heard arguments in the case last week.

More bad news for David Daleiden, architect of the “Planned Parenthood sells baby parts” smear campaign: A unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against Daleiden and his anti-choice front group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), may proceed. Daleiden and CMP had filed an anti-SLAPP motion hoping to get the case stricken, claiming that Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit to clamp down on Daleiden’s free speech rights (SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” Read our SLAPP explainer here). They failed. Daleiden and his pals can’t seem to catch a break in court. Sad face.

Gary Stein, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice, and a coalition of civil rights organizations including the state NAACP have filed a lawsuit demanding that New Jersey desegregate its public and charter schools.

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Bexar County, Texas—home of San Antonio—is suing several pharmaceutical companies, alleging that they should be held responsible for “causing and contributing” to the city’s opioid crisis.

Michael Slager—the North Charleston, South Carolina, cop who fatally shot Walter Scott in 2015 and was convicted of violating Scott’s civil rights under color of law—is appealing his 20-year sentence to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s currently sitting in jail in Englewood Federal Correction Institution, where we think he belongs.

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