After Lengthy Battle, Supreme Court Declines Atheist’s Case, Rules in Favor of Illinois Politician to Give $20,000 to Christian Group

Last we heard from atheist activist Rob Sherman, he had filed a lawsuit after Illinois legislators gave $20,000 to the Friends of the Cross organization “for the purchase and installation of new exterior panels for the cross to replace existing panels that are missing, worn or rusted.”

In other words, Sherman was opposed to the state giving thousands of dollars to repair this:

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled against Sherman, saying he didn’t have standing to sue the government over something like this.

His last option was for the Supreme Court to take up his case… but yesterday, they also said no:

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a Chicago-area atheist’s final appeal in his lawsuit challenging the use of state funds to renovate an 11-story cross atop southern Illinois’ tallest peak, ending the legal dispute spanning more than two years.

D.W. Presley, president of the cross’ board of directors, called the Supreme Court’s decision “not completely surprising,” given the atheist’s series of legal defeats.

“In the grand scheme of things, while this is sensational news, this was just a small portion of what we’ve had going on in the last three years. The more important story is seeing the cross restored,” Presley said. Sherman “used the legal process to the fullest extent, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re just glad it’s over and behind us.”

Rob Sherman responded to the ruling in a statement on his website:

Today’s refusal to take my case means that any Legislative body, whether it be Congress, a State Legislature or a local unit of government, can make blatantly unconstitutional grants to advance religion simply by naming an Executive Branch agency as the middleman in the transaction.

My case sought to have the Supreme Court establish that the constitutionality of expenditures of public funds shall be based on how the government spends our money, rather than on which branch of government makes (or claims credit for making) the expenditure, but the Supreme Court said, “No!” Instead, the Supreme Court has established that, now, both the Legislative and Executive Branches of government can make blatantly unconstitutional [expenditures], so long as the Executive Branch is involved, either as the originator of the unconstitutional grant or as the middleman for an unconstitutional grant by the Legislative Branch.

What a joke! What a fraud against the taxpayers of this country. Our nation’s court system is a truly a House of Fraud.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think he’s pleased…

In any case, I’m glad he filed the lawsuit. Even if it ended in pseudo-defeat, Sherman stood up for the side of church/state separation and didn’t lose on the merits. He fought a good fight here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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