A 61-year-old Houston lawyer has received death threats in connection with her legal challenge to a religious display at a county courthouse.
Kay Staley filed a lawsuit against Harris County last year over a monument that sits outside the Civil Courts Building. Staley’s lawsuit argues that the four-and-half-foot marble monument that is topped by a Bible under glass lit by neon violates the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.
Harris County officials argued before U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake that the county was not in violation of the First Amendment because it neither built nor maintains the monument, The Houston Chronicle reported.
Lake, a Reagan appointee, ruled in Staley’s favor on Aug. 10, ordering the county to remove the Bible display and pay Staley’s legal fees. Lake said the Bible’s presence on county property amounted to an unconstitutional government promotion of religion. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, stayed Lake’s ruling pending an appeal.
In late August, the San Antonio Express-News reported that Staley had received an envelope in the mail that contained a small map with Staley’s home address clearly marked and a scrawled message: “We have your address. It should be an easy shot.”
Staley also testified during trial before Lake that she received an enormous amount of hate mail after she filed her lawsuit, the Chronicle reported.
Former state judge John Devine, a Religious Right activist who supports the Bible’s display on public property, told the Express-News, “We are at war now over the systematic elimination of Christian tradition from civil government. This is just one more battle.”
Staley told the newspaper she was not afraid, but “I look very carefully when I leave the house.”