Felix v. City of Bloomfield, No. 14-2149 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In this case, Plaintiffs Jane Felix and B.N. Coone challenged the City of Bloomfield’s allowing the installation of a Ten Commandments monument on the City Hall Lawn. Two threshold issues raised were: (1) whether plaintiffs had standing; and (2) whether the monument was government speech subject to the limitations of the Establishment Clause. The Tenth Circuit found that plaintiffs suffered a legally sufficient injury to bring their claim in federal court, and that the First Amendment applied here. To downplay the religious overtones, City officials added several secular monuments next to the Ten Commandments to "dampen the effect of endorsement." The Tenth Circuit found that despite adding additional monuments, the inclusion of the Ten Commandments still violated the Establishment Clause: "The City has never explicitly said this Monument was not for religious purposes, nor that it was exhibited only for its historical significance. [. . .] In fact, [the City] has taken no public, purposeful, and persuasive action to distance itself from the sponsor and his message other than two ineffective disclaimers - one small, the other vague. The only meaningful public action Bloomfield undertook was to add secular monuments around the Ten Commandments." The Court affirmed the district court's ruling that the City impermissibly endorsed religion with its display of the Commandments, and the act was insufficiently mitigated by its curative efforts.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on February 6, 2017.