Green Bay Readies Christmas Display Policy in Advance of Lawsuit

The city of Green Bay could have a policy in place for Christmas displays even before a federal judge rules on whether the city violated the U.S. Constitution by installing a nativity scene last Christmas.

Mayor Jim Schmitt met with clergy members this week to get their ideas on a city policy. They agreed that the city should stick with secular decorations and leave the religious displays to area churches and synagogues, he said.

Although he plans to do more research, Schmitt said he hopes to have a proposed policy to present to the City Council by its meeting on Oct. 7 or Oct. 21.

That means a policy could be in place before U.S. Judge William Griesbach rules on a lawsuit filed against the city by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Oral arguments in that lawsuit are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the federal court building, 125 S. Jefferson St., Green Bay.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and 14 area residents are suing the city, Schmitt and former City Council President Chad Fradette over the display that Fradette installed Dec. 11 over an entry to City Hall.

Schmitt said the city’s policy likely will allow only secular holiday decorations. He said he believes the city was within its legal right to put up a religious display last year but isn’t likely to repeat it.

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