Federal Judge Roger Vinson found that the cross at the City of Pensacola’s Bayview Park can no longer stand as a permanent fixture on city-owned property and must be removed within 30 days.
However, Mayor Ashton Hayward does have two options according to the judge.
“To be clear: None of this is to say that the cross would have to come down if the City sold or leased the area surrounding it to a private party or non-governmental entity (so long as the transfer was bona fide and not a subterfuge),” wrote Vinson. “Nor would there be a constitutional problem with worshipers using a temporary cross for their services in the park (counsel for plaintiffs conceded that point during the hearing).”
Judge Vinson granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. He ruled that the “Bayview Cross violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and circuit precedent, and it must be removed within thirty (30) days.”
The City is ordered to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of $1.00, and the parties are directed to follow the local rules of this court with regard to attorney fees to which plaintiffs may be entitled.