A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Thursday dismissed [opinion] a lawsuit challenging the display of a cross at the World Trade Center (WTC) memorial. The lawsuit [JURIST report], brought by American Atheists (AA) [advocacy website] alleged two intersecting beams found in the WTC wreckage should not be displayed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum [official website] because it would constitute a government endorsement of religion. AA President David Silverman and attorney Edwin Kagin have said the group plans to appeal [press release] the ruling. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is scheduled to open next year.
Separation of church and state remains a complex legal issue in the US. Earlier this week the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a Florida city commission's pre-meeting prayers, rejecting an atheist group's argument that such a public forum practice illegally promoted Christianity. In January of last year the US Supreme Court [official website] declined to review [JURIST report] a similar case concerning whether a county board of commissioners in North Carolina violated the Establishment Clause by opening their public meetings with prayers. In April of that year, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a constitutional challenge to the National Day of Prayer (NDP) [official website]. The Seventh Circuit's decision overturned a ruling [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] that the NDP was an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.