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Attorney asks for summary judgment in lawsuit over Nativity scene at Baxter County courthouse


MOUNTAIN HOME, Arkansas — An attorney in the federal lawsuit challenging a Nativity scene at a northern Arkansas county courthouse seeks a summary judgment declaring the display unconstitutional.

Attorney J.G. "Gerry" Schulze who represents a Baxter County resident and the American Humanist Association filed the motion on Wednesday in federal court, The Baxter Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1LZbmhm ) reported. Baxter County and County Judge Mickey Pendergrass are named as defendants in the suit.

Plaintiffs contend that the county refuses to allow religions other than Christianity or those who aren't religious to have representation on the courthouse lawn. They claim that Pendergrass has denied requests to place a "Happy Winter Solstice" banner on the lawn.

Schulze is requesting that the court direct the county to either establish a public forum for all religions or to end the placement of the Nativity scene.

Pendergrass has said that the Nativity scene is simply a celebration of a holiday and that it has been on display at the courthouse for at least 40 years. The display includes a Santa Claus figure, sleigh, reindeer and Christmas tree.

"This is not a promotion by Baxter County for any religious purpose," he said.

The case is scheduled for trial in October in Fayetteville.

Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com

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