(1) Rehearing sought. As we mentioned here two weeks ago, a 3-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a Houston courthouse monument with a Bible on the top was unconstitutional (Staley v. Harris County). Now Harris County, Texas is asking for a rehearing en banc (http://www NULL.dfw NULL.com/mld/dfw/news/state/15395705 NULL.htm) (by the full court) of the panel’s decision. The full court is not required to rehear the case, but given the well-publicized controversy over the Bible monument, and the poorly-reasoned decision (http://www NULL.ca5 NULL.uscourts NULL.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C04/04-20667-CV0 NULL.wpd NULL.pdf) by the original panel, I believe the court is likely to grant a rehearing and reverse in favor of Harris County. If the court denies rehearing, the only (and last) option for the county is a certiorari petition to the Supreme Court.
(2) Staley “not an atheist.” Because the Foundation filed an amicus brief (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.org/PDF/Staley%20v NULL.%20Harris%20County,%20Texas NULL.pdf) in the Staley case, we are privy to a rather amusing motion filed by Kay Staley, the plaintiff in this case, on August 18. Staley objects to the 5th Circuit’s characterization of her as “an atheist” on the first page of the court’s opinion (http://www NULL.ca5 NULL.uscourts NULL.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C04/04-20667-CV0 NULL.wpd NULL.pdf). She insists that while the Bible monument “doesn’t represent [her] spiritual beliefs,” she is “not an atheist” but “a spiritual person” who “does not affiliate with any particular religious denomination,” and she wants the opinion altered accordingly.
(http://www NULL.godlesshouston NULL.com/news/awards_04 NULL.php)Okay, so now we know Staley is not an atheist. Glad we’ve cleared that up. However, Staley’s rejection of the moniker may disappoint the Atheist Community of Austin (http://www NULL.atheist-community NULL.org/news/news NULL.php?id=46) and her friends at the Houston Atheist Society, which awarded her its 2004 “Activist of the Year” award (http://www NULL.atheistalliance NULL.org/library/news_121704 NULL.php) (left). Will Staley’s coveted 2004 award now be revoked on grounds she’s an avowed “spiritual person”?
Kay “Not An Atheist” Staley