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Jesus Portrait Removed From Ohio School District After ACLU Lawsuit

Jesus Portrait Removed From Ohio School District After ACLU Lawsuit

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Published by FindLaw
A Jesus portrait in a small Ohio town has come down over concerns over the cost of defending a federal lawsuit against its display.

The religious painting thrust rural Jackson, Ohio into a national debate over religion in public schools.

The Jackson City Schools superintendent ordered the "Head of Christ" painting taken down Wednesday. Superintendent Phil Howard said the decision was made after the district's insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

"At the end of the day, we just couldn't roll the dice with taxpayer money," Superintendent Phil Howard told The Associated Press. "When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you're not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It's not fair to take those resources from our kids' education."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation sued on behalf of a student and two parents. The complaint, attached here, called the portrait an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school.
A Jesus portrait in a small Ohio town has come down over concerns over the cost of defending a federal lawsuit against its display.

The religious painting thrust rural Jackson, Ohio into a national debate over religion in public schools.

The Jackson City Schools superintendent ordered the "Head of Christ" painting taken down Wednesday. Superintendent Phil Howard said the decision was made after the district's insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

"At the end of the day, we just couldn't roll the dice with taxpayer money," Superintendent Phil Howard told The Associated Press. "When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you're not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It's not fair to take those resources from our kids' education."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation sued on behalf of a student and two parents. The complaint, attached here, called the portrait an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: FindLaw on Apr 03, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/03/2013

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UNITEDSTATESDISTRICTCOURTWESTERNDISTRICTOFWISCONSIN
FREEDOM FROM RELIGIONFOUNDATION, INC.,Plaintiff,v.Case No. 12-CV-818DOUGLAS SHULMAN,COMMISSIONER OF THE INTERNALREVENUE SERVICE,Defendant.
COMPLAINT
The Plaintiff, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as its Complaint against theDefendant, Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, alleges as follows:1. The Plaintiff, Freedom From Religion Foundation ("FFRF"), seeks a Declarationunder 28 U.S.C. §2201 that the Defendant, Douglas Shulman ("Shulman"), in his capacity asCommissioner of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), has violated, continues to violate, andwill continue to violate in the future, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to theConstitution of the United States by failing to enforce the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3) of the Tax Code against churches and religious organizations. The Defendant'sactions also violate the Plaintiff's Equal Protection rights.2. Plaintiff requests the Court to enjoin the Defendant Shulman from continuing a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions against churches and religious
Case: 3:12-cv-00818 Document #: 1 Filed: 11/14/12 Page 1 of 8
 
2organizations. The Plaintiff also requests the Court to order the Defendant to authorize a highranking official within the IRS to approve and initiate enforcement of the restrictions of §501(c)(3) against churches and religious organizations, including the electioneering restrictions,as required by law.3. This Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331 withrespect to the relief sought against the Defendant Shulman. The Court also has the authority toissue a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. §2201. The Court further has the authority toaward injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. §1443 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 65.4. The United States has waived sovereign immunity, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.§702, for actions that seek specific relief other than money damages, as in this case.5. Venue is appropriate in the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1391(e), where FFRF has its principal office.6. The Plaintiff is a tax-exempt non-profit organization under §501(c)(3) of the TaxCode, and as such, FFRF must and does abide by the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3).7. The Plaintiff is a non-profit membership organization that advocates for theseparation of Church and State and educates on matters of non-theism. The Plaintiff has morethan 19,000 members, residing in every state of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia.8. FFRF represents and advocates on behalf of its members throughout the UnitedStates.9. FFRF's membership includes individuals who are federal tax-payers who areopposed to government preferences and favoritism toward religion.
Case: 3:12-cv-00818 Document #: 1 Filed: 11/14/12 Page 2 of 8
 
310. The Defendant Shulman is the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service,with a principal address of 1111 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20224; theDefendant Shulman is sued in his official capacity.11. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United StatesConstitution prohibits governmental preference for, endorsement of, and discrimination in favor of religion.12. Section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code prohibits all non-profit organizations,including churches and other religious organizations, from intervening in political campaigns asa condition of their tax-exempt status.13. All organizations that are recognized as exempt from federal income tax unde§501(c)(3) of the Tax Code are subject to the prohibition against political campaign intervention.14. All organizations, including churches and religious organizations, that are exemptfrom federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Tax Code are prohibited from participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to anycandidate for elective public office.15. The restrictions of §501(c)(3) on electioneering activities do not precludediscussions of issues that are not linked to support for or opposition to candidates; the fact thatcandidates may align themselves on one side or another of an issue does not restrict the ability of religious organizations to engage in discussions of that issue.16. A discussion of issues violates the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3) of theTax Code if the discussion contains overt support for or opposition to a particular candidate.17. Factors relevant to determining whether an advocacy communication constitutesimpermissible campaign intervention include: (a) whether the communication identifies one or 
Case: 3:12-cv-00818 Document #: 1 Filed: 11/14/12 Page 3 of 8

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