PALM BEACH, December 18, 2003 ( – Federal Judge Daniel Hurley issued an order Tuesday afternoon asking the Town of Palm Beach to explain why he should not force them to rule upon the multiple requests from two residents to display a Nativity scene.  Citing a federal case that held constitutional Free Speech rights could be violated by inaction, the judge indicated that the refusal by Town officials to respond to multiple requests by two Palm Beach residents poses constitutional questions that must be resolved.  Palm Beach has been given until Thursday at 5:00 PM to submit their response.

Judge Hurley’s order came in response to a federal lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, alleging that the Town of Palm Beach is discriminating against Christian residents who have requested to have a nativity scene displayed.  Palm Beach has permitted the public display of Jewish Menorahs at various prominent public locations, but Town officials have repeatedly refused to review requests to have Christian Nativity scenes displayed alongside the Menorahs.

The lawsuit alleges, the Town’s inaction demonstrates hostility toward Christians, and impermissibly conveys the message of disapproval of the Christian faith.  The suit also alleges that the Town has unconstitutionally deprived the plaintiffs of their right to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution.  An immediate temporary restraining order has been sought that would allow a nativity scene to be erected on Town property in the same manner as the Menorah displays