Brewster Co. Texas to Remove Crosses from Patrol Cars to Settle Lawsuit
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson should have known that there would be a lawsuit when he added foot-high blue line crosses to county patrol cars. An atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit against the county in federal court to have the crosses removed, and now the county has to pay.
Chuck Lindell with American-Statesman reports:
Despite support from Gov. Greg Abbott, officials in Brewster County have agreed to ban the display of Christian crosses on sheriff’s vehicles to settle a lawsuit from the national Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Under the settlement, approved last week by county commissioners, Brewster County agreed to pay the foundation $21,970 in legal fees and $400 for court costs.
Two atheist residents of Brewster County who joined the foundation’s lawsuit, Kevin Price and Jesse Castillo, also were awarded $1 each “for past constitutional violations,” the consent decree said.
Greg Hudson, an Austin lawyer representing Brewster County and Sheriff Ronny Dodson, said the settlement reflected a county policy approved by the Commissioners Court in March that banned political, religious, commercial and personal symbols and messages from county vehicles. The ban was approved about three weeks after the foundation filed its lawsuit in Alpine’s federal court.
The Brewster County sheriff’s office has removed decals depicting the Christian cross from its patrol vehicles. The decals, foot-high depictions of a Latin cross with a thin blue line, were removed from the department’s vehicles.
Sheriff Dodson might as well have just written the atheist organization a check and never bothered to add the crosses. There’s a long history of lawsuits being filed, and won, against government organizations when they have placed religious symbols on government property. Now the crosses have been removed, and the county has paid the atheist group over $22,000 of taxpayers’ money, which will likely fund future similar lawsuits against Christians.