Judicial Update for November 18, 2015

Presented this week by the American Humanist Association.

Judge orders Arkansas County to remove crèche from courthouse lawn

On Thursday, November 12, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks ruled that the nativity display on Baxter County, Arkansas’ courthouse lawn is unconstitutional. The case, brought by American Humanist Association and Baxter County resident Dessa Blackthorn, challenged the County’s practice of displaying the Nativity scene every December while denying requests for other displays on the property.  Judge Brooks ruled that the County must either stop erecting religious displays on the courthouse property or create a public forum allowing all religions and viewpoints, including non-religious ones, to erect displays.

Massachusetts RMV permits Pastafarian headgear in driver’s license photo

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will permit Lindsay Miller, a Pastafarian, to have her drivers’ license photo taken with a colander on her head. Though the RMV originally denied Miller’s request to be photographed with the colander as an expression of her Pastafarian identity, the state changed its position following Miller’s filing of an administrative appeal with the aid of Patty DeJuneas, an attorney from the Secular Legal Society, the American Humanist Association’s network of cooperating attorneys. Miller said of the decision, “As a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I feel delighted that my Pastafarianism has been respected by the Massachusetts RMV. While I don’t think the government can involve itself in matters of religion, I do hope this decision encourages my fellow Pastafarian Atheists to come out and express themselves as I have.”

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