A federal judge has refused to order the removal of a devotional portrait of Jesus from a Louisiana city court after officials surrounded it with other pictures and documents.
In early September, U.S. District Court Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle concluded that an Orthodox icon of Jesus on a wall in the Slidell City Court could remain because city officials had surrounded it with pictures of 15 lawgivers from history and a copy of the Constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city in July at a time when the religious icon hung alone. City officials put up the other prints, which included images of Confucius, Mohammed, Napoleon Bonaparte, Moses and Charlemagne, in early September.
The Religious Right lawyers group, the Alliance Defense Fund, defended the city’s portrait of Jesus and lauded the outcome in Doe v. Parish of St. Tammany.
“The ruling is believed to be the first-ever federal court decision to specifically review and uphold as constitutional an image of an adult Jesus on public display,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson. “While such images and other religious symbols are common in public buildings throughout the U.S. none have been challenged in this manner before.”