A group of Christian churches has appealed the dismissal of its case that seeks to undo Santa Monica's ban on Nativity scenes and holiday displays at Palisades Park.
A notice of appeal was filed Dec. 26 in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by the attorney representing the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee.
Comprised of more than a dozen local churches and the Santa Monica Police Officers Association, the committee has tried without success to stop the city from adopting a new policy banning all unattended holiday displays at the scenic seaside park.
Before the ban, the life-size Nativity scenes had been erected in Palisades Park for 59 years.
The fight began in 2011, when the city implemented a new lottery system to award space in the park. That system led to disputes when lottery-winning atheist groups displayed signs and banners, leaving a large area usually devoted to Nativity scenes empty to illustrate their beliefs.
In November, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins sided with the city's argument that additional administrative burdens caused by other groups wishing to produce their own displays justified the ban.
"The city's job is to protect the rights of those whose protected expression is targeted by unruly forces," said William J. Becker, an attorney representing the Nativity committee. "We expect the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to get it."
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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