A city-owned nativity scene that has traditionally been displayed on the square in downtown Dover was moved this past holiday season onto the lawn of the Grace Lutheran Church in response to a legal challenge from a Wisconsin-based group. (Photo by Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV)
Dover, Ohio (WJER) - City council members are still grappling with their decision to remove a nativity scene from the city square following threatened litigation from an outside group.
Dover Law Director Doug O’Meara says with a number of community members reaching out to support the scene’s reinstallation, he’s watching a Supreme Court case dealing with similar issues closely. He says the high court is deciding whether a cross on public property in Maryland installed by private citizens but maintained by the state government is unconstitutional.
“We’ll follow their guidance. I think we will get guidance, and I think we will try to incorporate their guidance into our policy moving forward,” he says.
O’Meara says there will be plenty of time for the city to come to a final agreement on the issue with the court set to begin oral arguments in February.
“I think the Supreme Court may give us guidance before the end of June, and then the council can review that guidance and make a determination whether or not they want to again put the city display on the corner instead of moving it 150 feet, which was the solution to avoid litigation,” he says.
O’Meara says the main question will become the constitutionality of allowing private citizens to install religious symbols on government property, and he says the Supreme Court’s decision will have a direct impact on how council can move forward.