ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

City attempts to settle Ten Commandmants lawsuit

The city will attempt to settle the Ten Commandments lawsuit next by meeting the terms of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. The City Council is expected to pass a resolution Monday directing the city attorney to dispose of the laws...

The city will attempt to settle the Ten Commandments lawsuit next by meeting the terms of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

The City Council is expected to pass a resolution Monday directing the city attorney to dispose of the lawsuit by any appropriate means without going to trial.

The action will come the day before City Attorney Bryan Brown is to meet with the presiding federal judge in the case in anticipation of a trial in May.

If successful, the council resolution will negate one passed last week that only agreed to remove the monument, while rejecting other demands. The organization had wanted it taken down by last week and for the city to get rid of it by August, to a nongovernment agency. There were also financial penalties.

But the ACLU-MN publicly rejected that proposal.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new resolution by Councilor Greg Gilbert agrees to terms which may include "the permanent removal of the artifact and a permanent injunction against it being publicly displayed on property owned or controlled by the city or any other government ...."

"I'm not ready for an aggressive defense on this because I feel we're going to lose," said Gilbert, adding he wanted to avoid a court fight.

Brown likened the approach to starting over with another settlement proposal since the city's last one was rejected.

Last week's discussion attracted hundreds of people who filled the council chambers and spilled out into the hallway. About 40 people, including several church leaders, testified on what the city should do with the display.

Most favored taking whatever action possible-- such as transferring it to the county -- to keep the monument on city property. However, several speakers supported settling the suit and removing the commandments.

An ordinance conveying the monument and the land it sits on to St. Louis County will be back for a second reading but is not expected to pass.

Councilor Neill Atkins raised the issue of whether the mayor has had the authority all along under the city charter to have the monument removed.

Brown confirmed that the mayor does have that authority.

ADVERTISEMENT

"If the mayor wanted to remove it, he could," Atkins said. "We could have probably saved a lot of heartaches and problems."

Brown also confirmed that under previous council action, he has the authority to use outside help in the case, such as a specialist in First Amendment litigation.

Also on Monday, the council will vote on labor contracts for police, firefighters and supervisors. The contracts provide wage hikes of 1.5 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT