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Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. New Kensington-Arnold School District

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 27, 2015

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, INC.; DOE 1, by DOE 1's next friend and parent, MARIE SCHAUB, who also sues on her own behalf, Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW KENSINGTON-ARNOLD SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant

Page 822

For FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, INC., DOE 1, by DOE 1's next friend and parent, MARIE SCHAUB, MARIE SCHAUB, who also sues on her own behalf, Plaintiffs: Marcus B. Schneider, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alex J. Barker, Steele Schneider, Pittsburgh, PA.

For NEW KENSINGTON-ARNOLD SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant: Anthony G. Sanchez, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sanchez Legal Group, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA.

Page 823

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Terrence F. McVerry, Senior United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court are the cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant, New Kensington-Arnold School District, and Plaintiffs, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. (" FFRF" ), Doe 1, and Marie Schaub, who sues as Doe 1's next of friend and on her own behalf. ECF Nos. 58, 62. The motions have been fully briefed, and the factual record has been thoroughly developed via the parties' concise statements of material fact, the responses thereto, and the attached appendices. ECF Nos. 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 82. Accordingly, the motions are ripe for disposition.

I. Background

Since 1957, a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments has been located on the lawn outside of Valley High School in the New Kensington-Arnold School District. Standing approximately 6 feet tall and weighing upwards of 2,000 pounds, the monument sits on a grassy area between two sidewalks extending from a parking lot to the high school's gymnasium. The inscription on the monument reads:

The Ten Commandments

I AM the LORD thy God.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
III. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
IV. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
V. Thou shalt not kill.
VI. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.

At the top of the monument, there are two tablets inscribed with unreadable Hebrew script surrounded by a floral motif. An all-seeing eye sits between the two tablets, and an eagle grasping the American flag sits immediately below the all-seeing eye. Below the text are the superimposed Greek letters Chi and Rho, two Stars of David, and an inscription indicating that the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a national civic organization, donated the monument. The monument at Valley High School is one of many throughout the country donated by the Eagles or their local chapters in the middle of the last century.

Plaintiff Schaub lives in the School District with her daughter, Doe 1. Schaub is a member of the FFRF, a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the separation of church and state and educating the public on non-theism. Schaub identifies as an atheist and objects to the presence of the monument on the high school grounds. Prior to filing this lawsuit, however, she had " only been to the school a handful of times." Schaub Dep. 52:20-21. She viewed the Ten Commandments monument on one or two occasions when dropping off her sister at the high school. (It is not clear when these visits were.) She also viewed the monument when attending a karate event at the high school with Doe 1 in 2007 or 2008. She testified that although she did not stop to ...


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